Jonny Hayes' performance yesterday is a worry for Celtic

By David Walton

July 3, 2019

Jonny Hayes’ performance against St Gallen yesterday certainly wasn’t ideal ahead of the Champions League tie against Sarajevo.

Hayes was given the full 90 minutes, and he certainly looked rusty. The Irishman’s crossing was hot-and-cold, but it was his passing that was a real waste.

The former Aberdeen man struggled to connect with the simplest of passes against St Gallen. Added to that, he was often caught out of position with the Swiss side consistently getting at us down the left. Our lack of a quality right-back was also on show of course.

Jonny Hayes ended last season in positive fashion (Alan Rennie/Action Plus via Getty Images)

Hayes wasn’t the only one to underperform, but it was a crucial game for him in particular. You have to imagine the only real game-time he may get this season is as a left-back. With Kieran Tierney under intense media focus about a potential move away, St Gallen and perhaps even the Sarajevo tie represents him with a unique opportunity.

STV has today confirmed that Rapid Vienna left-back Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo is having a medical. If he comes in as a direct replacement for Tierney, then that wouldn’t be too detrimental for Hayes. But if he’s a simple replacement for Emilio Izaguirre, then Hayes could find himself as third choice.

Hayes’ performance not as impressive as Gutman’s

Another aspect Hayes should now be concerned about is the return of Andrew Gutman. It remains to be seen if the USA youngster is sent back out on loan. But, as it stands at the moment, he’s seriously impressing in pre-season so far.

Boli Bolingoli Mbombo looks set to sign for Celtic (Thomas Pichler/SEPA.Media /Getty Images)

Gutman made a couple of vital blocks against St Gallen to help keep the scoreline level. It also came after we went down to 10 men. That outing only added to his previous two against Wiener Sportclub and Pinkafeld respectively. In both of those matches, Gutman showed he has a fine delivery with his left-foot, and is a constant threat on the overlap.

Hayes has the excuse of yesterday just being a pre-season friendly. It was his first full 90 minutes of the campaign, and as you would expect, there will be some rustiness there. But it’s difficult to argue against it being a bad time for a poor performance. Gutman is fresher too. He’s featured regularly for Charlotte Independence during the off-season.

Could Andrew Gutman be a surprise inclusion in the squad to face Sarajevo? (Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The squad will tomorrow be submitted to UEFA for the Sarajevo tie (UEFA, page 42). Gutman may just have won a place in there. As for Hayes, he’ll most likely be in too, but has Lennon seen enough positives from him to give him a start?

Personally, if it were down to me, I would be giving Gutman his chance. If you’re judging who’s looked the better of the two so far this pre-season, it’s difficult to go against the USA man.