Neil Lennon has stated over the last week that he hopes to have both Leigh Griffiths and Ryan Christie back for Hampden.
Celtic’s 3-0 demolition job against Aberdeen has set up a Scottish Cup final against Hearts on May 25th. A victory there and the treble treble will be won. Defeat doesn’t even bear thinking about.
Christie was part of that hammering against the Dons, but only briefly. He came off just after the half-hour mark with an injury revealed to have caused multiple fractures. Celtic have confirmed he’ll go for surgery on Thursday.
A report today has even stated that Christie could still return for the final come May 25th.
Added to that, Griffiths is back doing fitness work. Celtic announced his return to proceedings at the end of last month. But, despite a timescale not being put on his return, Lennon opened the door to a return for the Hearts showdown.
Rogic return is a timely reminder of potential pitfalls
But the current interim boss must look at Rogic’s return as a timely reminder of why this is a dangerous game to play.
When Rogic came back against Rangers, he could hardly control the ball. He looked well off the pace, and Lennon himself stated that before the Aberdeen game, Rogic had been “off colour”. In the end, we managed to get away with it against Rangers, but Rogic played next to no part in seeing the game through.
For a game as huge as the one against Hearts next month, is risking Griffiths or Christie worth doing? The only real way they should be playing a part is if the game is won and sentimentality comes into things. Outside of that, risking either considering they won’t have played any games in weeks wouldn’t make much sense.
It would be terrific to see Griffiths especially back out against Hearts. But Lennon has to make sure that the game is more or less won before he brings him on. Yes, he’s good for a goal, and especially against Hearts, but Griff hasn’t played since December. That’s over five months.
For Christie, it still doesn’t seem clear as to when he could truly be back. If he manages to return BEFORE the final, then maybe it’s something Celtic could look at. But Lennon must take into account whether he can affect things as normal so soon after returning.
May 25th isn’t a day for emotional decisions. It’s a day for composure and accuracy from Lennon’s perspective. Hopefully, we DO see both men come on at Hampden at some stage. Because if we do, it’ll hopefully be because the game and treble treble have been effectively won.