Kris Ajer's new Celtic role backed by his first manager in Norway

By John McGinley

December 19, 2020

Mons Ivar Mjelde, the first manager of Celtic defender Kristoffer Ajer, has backed Neil Lennon’s decision to deploy him at right-back.

Ajer arrived at Celtic Park as a midfielder before transitioning to the centre-half position.

On occasion since then he’s been deployed at right-back, primarily because of injury to others.

Recently he’s excelled in the position. There are now calls for him to continue in that role while Celtic sort out a long-term solution.

Mjelde, who gave the player his first action at Norwegian club Start, reckons he’ll be relishing the opportunity.

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As quoted by The Scottish Sun, he said: “Kristoffer will love the freedom of playing at right-back for Celtic. He will feel like a kid again. It’s a big pitch at the Scottish national stadium and that means there is a lot of space for him to run into!

“I am told he has been excellent in that position and it doesn’t surprise me. He has the attributes. Celtic play attacking football and the full-back will play a big part in that. Kristoffer will love that. He likes nothing better than to get on the ball, move forward, show his skill and get involved.

“Kristoffer is passionate and energetic — but he can also play. He has quick feet and can finish. I know the Celtic manager has adjusted his system recently but playing him as a right-back is a sensible move.”

A Celtic start tomorrow?

As Neil Lennon prepares for tomorrow’s massive Scottish Cup Final against Hearts, he must be considering playing Ajer on the right flank again.

Whether he goes with Jeremie Frimpong or Ryan Christie further forward, the selection of Ajer would be welcomed.

Celtic defender Kristoffer Ajer / (Photo by Craig Foy/SNS Group via Getty Images)

The Norwegian has the defensive awareness to protect centre-halves Shane Duffy and Christopher Jullien. He also has the athleticism to get himself up and down the Hampden pitch.

As demonstrated against Lille, he can also provide a bit of incisive class in the attacking third.

It was a bold call from Lennon to shift him out there, but it’s working, and shouldn’t be changed.

In other news, we were at today’s Celtic Trust meeting to hear what Peter Lawwell had to say in a recent video call.