Neil Lennon says he couldn’t set Celtic up with a back four last night, because Ryan Christie wasn’t able to start.

The Hoops attacker missed Saturday’s clash against Rangers, after being in isolation following Scotland team-mate Stuart Armstrong’s positive COVID test a fortnight ago.

With Christie seemingly fit and able, it may have been surprising to many Celtic fans that he didn’t start last night’s game against AC Milan.

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The Scotland man was a key player for us last season, having netted 11 league goals in 24 matches – as well as seven in Europe.

But Neil Lennon has detailed why the 25-year-old didn’t start the game, and how that affected the team’s shape for the Europa League clash.

“I couldn’t start with a back four”, the Hoops boss said, as reported by the Daily Record.

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Christie came on at half-time

Christie came on at half-time / (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

“I couldn’t start Ryan based on what the medical team told me.

“We have started the season 4-3-3 and were alright in some of the games we scored more goals with 3-5-2, but it’s about personnel and getting players back fitter and hungrier that was a big plus.”


Lennon likely to go to back four against Aberdeen

Lennon’s comments may have been pretty short, but there are a few interesting things to note from them.

First of all, despite the Hoops boss making so many noises about Christie being “fit and able” last week (Daily Record) it seems he wouldn’t have been ready to start that match against the Ibrox side.

That medical advice is surprising given how adamant Lennon was that Christie would have faced Rangers.

On a more promising note, however, it does seem like Lennon would have preferred to have gone with a 4-2-3-1 (or a 4-3-3) as he put it.

Christie is crucial to that as, in the absence of James Forrest and Hatem Abd Elhamed, he could slot into the right of the three and let Jeremie Frimpong play at full-back.

Jeremie Frimpong and Ismaila Soro together

Jeremie Frimpong and Ismaila Soro together / (Photo by Ian MacNicol – UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)

So Lennon’s hand was forced against Milan. With Christie looking good on Thursday, surely he is in line to start Sunday’s crucial Premiership clash against Aberdeen.

If he does then Celtic will almost certainly go to a back four – a far more suitable formation for the players we have at our disposal.

In other news, Neil Lennon has backed Vasilis Barkas to improve after a slow start to life in Scotland

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