Hatem Abd Elhamed gets 'big game' seal of approval from Neil Lennon after Celtic chat
Hatem Abd Elhamed believes he is one of Neil Lennon’s trusted first-team players after an indication from the Celtic boss he will be playing in some big games on the horizon, The Glasgow Times reports.
Elhamed’s last start prior to the mid-week game against KR Reykjavik was way back in Rome when the Bhoys stunned Serie A side Lazio with a 2-1 victory.
Out for 10 months, save for a few substitute appearances, there have certainly been concerns about the player’s fitness and injury record.
However, he now feels he is well placed to achieve one of his dreams, playing in the Champions League group stages.
After a chat with Lennon, the Israeli international is feeling very comfortable about his place in the squad, despite a lack of appearances.
As quoted by The Glasgow Times, Elhamed said: “He has told me that I am an experienced player and I have many qualities that he likes, so, yes, he trusts me in the big games and the big nights.
“And I am happy that I show him again and again that I deserve his trust and I am looking forward to playing good again, to keep myself fit and have a good season and stay free of injury.
“I focused on training to get myself fit and waiting for my chance to play again and show my qualities on the pitch and hopefully I can play more in the future.”
The smart money would be on the 29-year-old now starting this Wednesday’s match against Ferencvaros in the second round of qualifying.
Jeremie Frimpong got the nod against Dundee United but Elhamed would bring more defensive stability and composure to the one-legged knockout tie at right-back.
Elhamed also has the ability to slot into the right side of a back-three formation, an added versatility that should ensure more appearances this season.
The key really is staying injury-free but hopefully he’s put all those issues behind him and he goes on to be a solid option for the manager.