Christopher Jullien’s absence for Celtic ahead of tomorrow night’s trip to Riga has sparked a mixed response from Hoops supporters.
The big Frenchman has been a constant at the back alongside the likes of Kristoffer Ajer and Shane Duffy in recent weeks. However, Neil Lennon confirmed today at his pre-match press conference that the centre-back will miss the game through a back injury.
— Celtic Football Club (@CelticFC) September 23, 2020
Celtic still have a host of options in reserve, which should mean that there’s no need to change their shape to any real degree. The likes of Nir Bitton and Hatem Elhamed are available should Lennon see fit to throw them in.
But there have certainly been mixed emotions to Jullien’s absence ahead of tomorrow night. Some are concerned, some aren’t worried at all, and some believe they know what caused the injury! Throwing all of that into the mix, here’s a look at some of the fan reaction:
Jullien having back issues this young isn’t great. We need another CB even if we keep Ajer.
— Yankee1O570 (@Yankee1O570) September 23, 2020
Worried that Jullien is going to be out longer than Lennon let on
— Jamie (@Jamie67_) September 23, 2020
Elhamed, Duffy & Ajer … with Bitton as back-up, should be enough.
Btw I wonder if Neil Lennon noticed that Bitton & Elhamed both did a decent job playing alongside each other at the back for Israel the other week, with Elhamed playing LCB
— ☯CarlJungleBhoy❋ (@CarlJungleBhoy) September 23, 2020
— Steve McGrory (@SteveMcGrory2) September 23, 2020
Not good news🍀🍀 https://t.co/f3SFDXhM9W
— Stephen Kennedy (@Stephen85859787) September 23, 2020
Jullien out? No issue! Lennon has plenty of options at the back and should still easily breeze past Riga tbh.
— david (@david12113970) September 23, 2020
Don’t kid yourselves,Sunday’s game is more important
— JungleLion (@JungleLion_) September 23, 2020
Probably from big Shane Duffy crashing down on him at Ross County 😂 https://t.co/RtjMxSBxtK
— Celtic Fc To The Core (@CelticFc_Core) September 23, 2020
Exactly my first thought. Lol. It was a pretty bracing shock I'm sure.
— Jonny Lavin (@JonnyLavn) September 23, 2020
Can only take Jullien’s injury on a week-to-week basis
It’s a blow, regardless of Jullien’s previous inconsistencies in a Celtic jersey. He’s still a part of our most solid defensive team, and almost certainly would’ve started in Riga had he been fit.
However, it’s important not to jump the gun too much on this one either. Just because he’s missing tomorrow and didn’t feature last Saturday against Livingston – it doesn’t mean he’s automatically out for the long-term.
Lennon may simply not know how long he’s out for or it may just be the case that he’s taking it on a game-by-game basis. There’s no reason for the manager to hide any information from the supporters in that regard.
With another international break coming up at the start of next month, it gives the defender some recuperation time should he need it. But we’ve been given no reason to believe that he’ll be injured for Saturday’s visit of Hibs as of yet. All Lennon has confirmed is his absence for tomorrow.
As for who takes his place, it would appear to be a toss-up between Elhamed and Bitton. Both men were terrific as a centre-back pairing against Scotland at Hampden several weeks ago, but Lennon won’t be dropping Ajer or Duffy anytime soon.
The smart bet would be on Nir given it’s a centre-back position. Lennon has often gone for the Israeli whenever he’s needed cover in the past, and he looks likely to fill the spot again tomorrow as part of a back three.