Daniel Arzani's Celtic challenge has just gotten harder

By David Walton

July 11, 2019

Daniel Arzani’s injury woes will hopefully be behind him this time next week.

With all of the commotion of the Sarajevo tie and its subplots, you could be forgiven for forgetting Arzani’s hopeful return date. The Aussie injured his ACL last October in a 5-0 win at Dens Park. It was a real black mark on what was generally an extremely positive day for the Hoops.

We haven’t seen Arzani since either. He’s been doing plenty of rehab work in a bid to come back stronger this season. Yet, even after our first competitive game of the campaign, Arzani still isn’t available.

Daniel Arzani injured himself against Dundee (David Young/Action Plus via Getty Images)

Fortunately, that doesn’t look like being the case for much longer. Arzani told the Celtic Twitter account three weeks ago that he would miss the first leg against the Bosnians. He did, however, claim he hoped to be back for the second.

There’s been nothing further on this since. Still, we wait for confirmation about Arzani’s hopeful return. But, more concerning for the player himself is what’s been happening since then.

Daniel Arzani’s injury has allowed Mikey Johnston to flourish

Mikey Johnston feels like he’s already made the left-wing spot his own this season. Arzani’s comments about a return came before our first pre-season game of the season. Since then, Johnston has managed three goals in four games, and has stolen the show every time he’s been on a pitch this season.

His equaliser in Sarajevo only increased his reputation with the Celtic support, and most likely Neil Lennon too. That position is now his own, and it makes for an incredibly difficult challenge for Arzani.

Mikey Johnston has become first-choice at left-mid (Elvis Barukcic/AFP/Getty Images)

Not only does he have to cope with Johnston’s ability, he has to fight other aspects too. For example, Johnston is our player, and supporters would much rather we develop our own than play a loan man. Arzani, therefore, has to seriously stand out in order to justify his inclusion.

It looked a tad simpler when Scott Sinclair was stumbling almost every week. In fact, it looked as though Arzani could just waltz in there unchallenged. But even the Englishman looked sharper against Sarajevo. The last thing Arzani needs is Sinclair coming into form and providing him with another obstacle.

The Australian internationalist has a big fight ahead of him (Sebnem Coskun/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

At the moment, you have to consider him as third choice. Lewis Morgan also came on during the game on Tuesday and made a positive impact down both flanks. Arzani could have plenty of competition when just several weeks ago it looked like there was minimal.

It’s time for him to seriously show the Celtic support what he’s all about. If he doesn’t, he’ll be nowhere near the team.