Hatem Abd Elhamed returns to Celtic squad; helps lessen blow of Ajer absence
Hatem Abd Elhamed has returned to Neil Lennon’s Celtic squad in time for tomorrow’s Scottish Cup semi-final, The Scottish Sun has reported today.
Elhamed tested positively for COVID-19 during this month’s international break and has been on the sidelines since.
The Israeli cap hasn’t played for the Bhoys for close to four weeks, last featuring in the 2-0 win against St Johnstone.
He returned to Scotland on Monday and has apparently managed to overcome the barrage of tests that would allow a return to Lennoxtown training.
Odsonne Edouard and Nir Bitton, who both tested positive in the days prior to Elhamed, have already returned to playing action – both of them coming off the bench against Lille on Thursday night.
Elhamed’s return comes at the perfect time.
Kristoffer Ajer was forced out of the Europa League encounter with a groin issue and is not expected to be available tomorrow.
The seriousness of the problem has not yet been revealed either, meaning he could be missing from multiple games.
The versatile Elhamed has the ability to play in central defence, or provide cover for Jeremie Frimpong on the right flank.
His return is timed perfectly, especially so considering Christopher Jullien is also out, with a back problem.
Signing last summer, Elhamed has been a reliable performer for the manager, and I would have no concerns with him starting any of our upcoming matches if he is fit enough.
In fact, he could be an excellent pragmatic choice on the right if the manager feels that Frimpong’s presence leaves us too exposed.