Celtic manager Neil Lennon has confirmed that new left-back Diego Laxalt will be available to play against both Rangers and AC Milan after the international break.
Laxalt arrives at Parkhead on a season-long loan deal from the Rossoneri but has spent all six of Milan’s games this season on the bench. His last competitive match came back in July during a 1-1 draw with Atalanta.
However, after gaining a full pre-season under his belt with the Serie A side, Lennon doesn’t believe that there is any issues with his fitness. That means he’ll therefore be able to make his Celtic debut in two weeks’ time against Rangers after the international break.
Speaking at a press conference yesterday posted by Celtic TV, Lennon said the following:
“Yes, as far as I’m aware he will be (available to face AC Milan in the group stages). He will be ready for the Rangers game as well (October 17th).
“He’s been training. Obviously he hasn’t played much for Milan so far, but he’s fit and he’ll be available for the next games.”
Thrown in at the deep end?
Considering it’s been four months since his last match, it will be a heck of a bold call from the manager if he throws him into the derby. His direct rival that day would be James Tavernier, and it would be on Laxalt to stop him getting good deliveries into the Celtic penalty area.
But even if he doesn’t play against Rangers, it’s good to know there’s not going to be a similar saga to what we had with Albian Ajeti. After the Swiss centre-forward signed for the Hoops back in August, it took him just under a month before he was able to play for over an hour.
Even now, Ajeti still hasn’t played a full 90 minutes for the Hoops, but we know it’ll come at some point after he returns from injury.
The difference between Laxalt and his new team-mate is that the former has had a pre-season to his name. Ajeti arrived without one. The only thing Laxalt now may be lacking is match-sharpness, but there’s only one way to get that – by playing games.
It would be a lot more concerning if the Uruguayan hadn’t played since February or March. Thankfully that’s not the case, and it will be down to Laxalt to earn his spot for the big game at Parkhead a week from on Saturday.