Yesterday, Neil Lennon casually told the Celtic supporters that we would be without Mohamed Elyounoussi for the game against AC Milan tonight.
Lennon told the media that Moi has been left at home whilst Shane Duffy has a knee injury and that Christopher Jullien was is also a doubt…..despite the fact he did a pre-match presser of his own.
In any case, the injuries/absences for Duffy and Jullien are fine. The former hasn’t been anywhere near the first-team this season whilst the latter is likely going to be rested more than anything major.
But Elyounoussi’s absence leaves Celtic in a ridiculous position when it comes to the left-wing position – we don’t have one.
Elyounoussi’s main positional rival – Mikey Johnston – is still out and not yet ready for the first-team action. He’s the only one that could’ve ideally replaced Moi comfortably.
James Forrest also has experience on the left side, but he’s another who’s still on the treatment table. Nobody knows when he’ll return, and even if he does, he’ll likely just take up his natural right-wing berth.
That leaves the manager with a horrid decision to make this evening given our lack of left-sided personnel.
So what are the options?
He could, in theory, push Diego Laxalt forward as part of an attacking three and throw Greg Taylor in at left-back. Then again, given the latter hasn’t played since October 22nd and the former is known more for his defensive attributes than what he provides in the final third, that seems an unlikely option.
Lennon could also decide to play without width as he did against Ross County at the weekend. The only problem was that reaped no chances for us with Tom Rogic and Ryan Christie quickly being denied the space to provide service to Odsonne Edouard and Albian Ajeti.
It would also give Milan plenty of room to operate down both flanks and could see us stretched easier than would be necessary.
It’s difficult to know what the alternative option is for Lennon this evening. Does he throw Christie into a left-sided position despite his general lack of pace? Over on the right, Lennon still has the option of playing Hatem Elhamed at right-back with Jeremie Frimpong more advanced if he wants to go with two down the flanks.
But given the role Elyounoussi plays on the opposite side, we’re out of natural options for tonight. Don’t be surprised if Christie is tasked with operating in a more left-sided role with Tom Rogic as the 10 and Frimpong on the right.
That is unless Lennon totally changes his shape. We’ll see what the night brings, but it’s ridiculous that we’re in a position where we have absolutely no natural left-wingers fit at the club.