Neil Lennon confirms that Ryan Christie will be fit for Hearts-Celtic

By David Walton

December 18, 2019

Hoops manager Neil Lennon has confirmed that Ryan Christie will be in the squad for Hearts vs Celtic tonight.

There were question marks over whether Christie would return this evening after he missed Sunday’s 2-0 win against Hibernian. Christie last played in the Betfred Cup final against Rangers nearly two weeks ago.

The former Inverness and Aberdeen star has 16 goals and 11 assists in 29 appearances this season – a ridiculously good record for an attacking midfielder (Transfermarkt).

Ryan Christie has been heroic this season (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Considering the importance of tonight’s game, it’s ideal to have him back in the mix. And Lennon, speaking in The Herald, confirmed his availability.

“Ryan Christie trained on Monday so he will be back in the squad.”

Christie’s return vitally important

It’s terrific to hear that Christie is back ahead of a big week-and-a-half for the club. The attacker’s absences this season have been felt, and with Tom Rogic struggling to make an impact, we haven’t been able to fill the Christie hole this season when we’ve needed to.

The nature of tonight’s game also suits Christie to the ground. If Hearts do indeed continue to be high-pressing and in our faces, Christie is the kind of player who can turn defence into attack in an instant. His passing tonight will be crucial to making sure we exploit Hearts.

Christie has been Celtic’s most productive player this season (Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Of course, Lennon hasn’t confirmed whether he’ll start the game or not. If he is still feeling any effects from his injury, he’d be as well starting on the bench. We’re now too close to the Rangers game to be taking any risks. We need Christie fit for that one.

Lenny does have the option of pushing Callum McGregor forward or placing Olivier Ntcham in the 10 position tonight. Neither are as effective as Christie is in that area of the pitch, but you would still bet on them having too much for Hearts.

Will Neil Lennon start Christie tonight? (Paul Ursachi/MB Media/Getty Images)

The fact that Christie won’t be struggling for the December 29th clash is huge. He was the man who assisted the winning goal at Hampden in our last game against Rangers. With the improvement he’s putting into his deliveries, his value to our side continues to increase.

So it remains to be seen whether Lenny risks Ryan from the start tonight. Either way, we would all still expect a convincing scoreline regardless.