Neil Lennon has provided a worrying update on Kristoffer Ajer in what was Celtic’s only big negative of the night.

The Hoops were 2-0 ahead against Lille this evening when Ajer had to come off clutching his groin. It was an innocuous moment at the time, but the Norwegian had to come off and was replaced by the returning Nir Bitton.

Typically, Lille managed to come back from the deficit to secure a 2-2 draw and end the night on a frustrating note. But given the excitement of the game, Ajer’s injury was swept under the carpet a little.

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Now, however, Lennon has provided an update via Celtic’s official Twitter account, and it doesn’t look like it’s a good one:

 

Ajer a key part of Lennon’s starting XI

For me, Ajer falls well into the bracket of players whose impact isn’t appreciated until he’s out of the side. He adds so much to the Celtic team both defensively and going forward.

He was sensational tonight before he went off in the second half. He was making key interventions, challenges, and won plenty of important aerial duels on the night too.

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But let’s not forget what Ajer adds going forward. He can be invaluable against compact defences, especially domestically. His runs from deep often open up plenty of space for Celtic’s flair players to exploit.

Celtic defender Kristoffer Ajer in action against Rangers

Celtic defender Kristoffer Ajer in action against Rangers / (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

It’s also ironic that he picks up an injury just as Bitton and Hatem Elhamed return to action. It’s a massive blow, but one that should at least be eased by some of our returning stars.

Ajer tends to turn it on against Aberdeen, our opponents on Sunday. So he’ll be missed. But the natural replacement looks like Bitton, who didn’t do a lot wrong after coming on in France this evening.

All we can do for now, however, is pray it’s nothing long-term.

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