John Kennedy has revealed some more details on the state of Christopher Jullien and his Celtic recovery.
Jullien has been out since December with a knee injury after clearing a goal-bound shot off the line that led to him smashing his leg against the post. The original diagnosis was up to four months out. However, before Neil Lennon left, he dropped the bombshell that it would take as many as nine months for Chris to recover.
Since that period, Celtic have been a defensive shambles from cross-balls. Despite the partnership of Stephen Welsh and Kris Ajer looking promising, we still have a massive set-piece problem.
And unfortunately, it doesn’t look as though Jullien is going to be back anytime soon. Not going by what Kennedy said as he provided an update on his condition last night.
As quoted by the Daily Record, the Celtic interim manager said: “I’ve spoken to Chris a few times. I was on the phone to him just last week for a bit. I wanted to see how he’s progressing. He’s in France at the minute, getting more intense rehab work.
“Being based there, he has more time with someone he’s used to working with and in a place he’s familiar with. He’s still in the early stages of his recovery, the toughest part because you’re restricted in what you can do.
“You want to get moving quicker but with the injury he’s got, what is important is just a steady progression. But he has a good mindset. He can deal with the challenge of being injured and he’s focused on how he can improve and get better again. He’s in a good place mentally. So that’s important – it allows him to get his work in on the right path to recovery.”
Chris Jullien won’t be making a Celtic return for some time yet
Had his recovery period been that of the original timescale, Jullien would be close to returning. Those four months would be almost over and we would all be delighted to be able to add to our centre-back options. Especially considering we’re not long until the summer rebuild takes place.
However, it looks as though the Frenchman still has plenty of recovery time to go. Celtic would love to have him back fit and firing for the new manager taking over. But that won’t be the case. And in truth, it could easily be towards the end of 2021 before we see him back in action.
That opens up a real dilemma for the Celtic boss. He’ll already have to recruit in the summer at centre-back. Ajer looks set to depart whilst Shane Duffy’s torturous loan spell is up. Nir Bitton, meanwhile, has also been linked with a move back home to Israel [Scottish Sun]. But Jullien’s injury makes the difference between signing two or three centre-backs. If he’s out for a prolonged period, Celtic may need to splash out on several defensive reinforcements.
That wouldn’t be ideal, but it may be a necessity. Unless they can somehow convince Ajer to stay on for another year or two. Highly unlikely again.
But Jullien, regardless of when he returns, will be a big part of this Celtic rebuild. He has plenty to offer, but we need him off the treatment table consistently if we’re to get real use out of him.
Hopefully, this is the last injury we see for him in some time.