Former Celtic centre-back John Hughes has named the player he wishes had started for the Hoops in the recent 2-1 defeat to Rangers. That player is midfielder Olivier Ntcham.
Ntcham had started for the Hoops in the games leading up to the derby. However, he was perhaps unexpectedly left on the bench. He came on to the game in the second-half, but by then it was too late and Celtic were already on the road to defeat.
Now Hughes has explained why he feels Ntcham should have been involved from the start.
“You need to match that”
“Rangers have had a solid shape all season. You need to match that in midfield, and I was hoping Ntcham would have played” he said, as quoted by the Daily Record.
“McGregor and Brown were over-run in midfield. They two are trying to start the play and get up and support which is why I had hoped Ntcham would play in there.”
Celtic probably would have had more of a presence in the middle of the park had Ntcham started. He arguably would not have allowed Celtic to get over-run, as Hughes points out happened on the game.
Hasn’t started any derbies this season
It is interesting that Ntcham hasn’t started any of the three Glasgow derbies this season. When you consider how good a player he can be, it is a bit of a surprise that he hasn’t featured that often in Celtic’s biggest domestic games of the season.
If Ntcham is back in the Celtic team after the winter break, then perhaps that will be an indication that Lennon may have made an error in not starting the player in the Glasgow derby.
Maybe in March he will get his first derby start of the season when Celtic travel to Ibrox. That could be a pivotal league game. He could be the difference-maker in helping the Hoops win nine in a row.