Luca Connell’s absence from the Celtic squad to face Nomme Kalju last night was perhaps one of the more surprising elements of the evening.
The Hoops midfielder was signed from Bolton after making just a handful of senior appearances. He’s yet to make a competitive appearance in green-and-white, but it’s fair to say nobody knows yet what Neil Lennon’s plans are for him.
Supporters wouldn’t have been too sure as to whether Connell was one for the here and now, or indeed a player to nurture for the future. Given his inexperience in the game, all evidence seemed to point towards the latter.
And last night’s 2-0 win over Kalju also added weight to that argument.
Despite Lennon making a host of changes for the second leg, Connell wasn’t anywhere to be seen. Instead, Olivier Ntcham slotted in, with Nir Bitton playing just behind him. Even if Lennon didn’t want to rock the boat, he could’ve found some space for Connell if he so desired.
It also would’ve been nice to get another look at him before the domestic action begins on Saturday. But at this stage, there’s no confirmation that we’ll see him regularly this season.
Connell’s absence could prove he’s one for later
At the moment, there is plenty of talent ahead of Connell in the midfield. You could arguably say he’s fifth choice at the moment. Scott Brown, Callum McGregor, Ntcham, and Bitton all have strong claims for a place in the engine room.
Those are the players Lenny has been choosing ahead of Connell. And that seems to, therefore, point to a spell with the development side to try and impress the Hoops first-team coaches.
Another potential option could be to find him a loan spell elsewhere in Scotland if we don’t plan on featuring him much. He could learn so much about the country and the Premiership by going to a league rival this term. Then again, that can only be the case if Lennon doesn’t see him as an immediate first-team man.
This is something that could do with being cleared up by the manager. Is Connell one for now, or is he one for the future? He’s young enough for it to be the latter, and first-team selections point in that direction too.
So far, Celtic fans have only seen him make one appearance against Rennes nearly three weeks ago. He looked composed enough in the midfield, but did seem a tad raw. He seems to have plenty of confidence, however, and his attributes as a footballer were there for all to see against the Ligue 1 side.
What should we do with Connell this summer? Should we keep him around to see if he can win a place? Or would a loan spell be best for his development if he isn’t going to be a regular?
There’s no departure in sight at the moment, so hopefully Lenny can update us on where Connell stands in the pecking order.