Jonny Hayes' Celtic opportunities raise interesting debate

By David Walton

November 10, 2019

Jonny Hayes’ chance in the starting line-up today opens up an intriguing question, and a potentially worrying one for Greg Taylor.

With Boli Bolingoli still out injured, only Taylor and Hayes remain available for Neil Lennon to choose from.

Last Thursday night in Italy, Lenny went with experience when he selected Hayes to start against Lazio. What many likely would’ve thought is that Taylor would’ve managed a run-out in today’s game against Motherwell.

Jonny Hayes is playing a key role under Neil Lennon (Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

But once again that wasn’t the case. Lennon intriguingly decided to select Hayes once again. The Irishman made a positive contribution this afternoon too.

The former Aberdeen man started well and put some dangerous crosses into the Steelmen’s penalty area. His run in-behind late on helped make it 2-0. Hayes’ cross was turned into his own net by Richard Tait, effectively ending Motherwell’s hopes of getting anything.

But that’s now two games back-to-back where Lennon has selected Hayes ahead of Taylor. With an international break coming up, you wonder what this means for the summer-signing.

Is Hayes officially second choice behind Boli?

The question simply has to be asked about whether Hayes is now officially ahead of Taylor. It’s difficult to really give a definitive answer. However, for now, he’s certainly getting more opportunities than Taylor is.

Greg Taylor was an unused sub today (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

It’s worth remembering that Hayes is also Lenny’s most used substitute this season. He’s come on in 12 matches alone this season (Transfermarkt). Lennon clearly believes he adds real value to the side.

With the international break now coming up, you have to wonder when Taylor will get his next chance. Celtic are going to play very few games of little importance this year. Rangers just won’t go away, so mass rotation in Premiership matches is unlikely to happen.

At home to Motherwell seemed like the perfect opportunity for Taylor to get his chance. But Neil is firmly backing Hayes these days when it comes to being Boli’s back-up.

Neil Lennon has unreal strength in the left-back position (Tullio Puglia – UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)

Next up, Celtic have Livingston, Rennes, Ross County, and Hamilton respectively. If Taylor is going to get a chance to shine, you have to imagine it would be in one of these fixtures. With Rangers, Cluj, Hibs, Hearts, and Aberdeen coming up afterward – you can’t see many chances for him there.

Today was a blow for him, but Hayes once again proved to everyone that he’s able to slot in without any worries.