The Betfred Cup final will throw up a debate that many have been giving their opinions on in recent days.
Hatem Abd Elhamed will miss the match at Hampden against Rangers through injury. According to his agent Dudu Dahan, he could be missing for up to six weeks (Dudu Dahan Twitter).
That throws up an intriguing question about his potential replacement. Chris Sutton stated his belief that it’s a real dilemma, and provided an argument for both Jeremie Frimpong and Moritz Bauer’s individual cases (Daily Record).
But in a game that’s going to be so heated and a contest in which we’ll have to be defensively sound in, Bauer should get the nod for now.
Frimpong is a superb talent. He’s risen to every challenge presented to him so far. A trip to Pittodrie and a semi-final at Hampden against Hibernian proved to be no real issue for him. However, it’s important to remember that he’s only played five senior matches in his career.
Bauer, meanwhile, has some real success to his name. He’s played nearly 200 senior matches in four different nations. He’s a former Swiss Cup winner with Grasshopper, and a former Rubin Kazan Player of the Year winner too.
The Austrian played 26 times last season for Stoke City and has both Premier League and Championship experience under his belt (Transfermarkt).
Bauer has successful experience in this fixture
Not to mention the fact that Bauer came on for the final 25 minutes at Ibrox and slotted in like a glove. Remember, we were 1-0 up at the time with the pressure seriously on us. Bauer kept Jordan Jones quiet and even managed to get him sent off he frustrated him that much.
That match in September was a win built on defensive soundness. The back-four were lauded for how they dealt with Rangers’ attacking threats by many (CelticFC.net). So why play a player whose defensive attributes we aren’t yet familiar with?
He may only be here temporarily, but that shouldn’t put Neil Lennon off playing him at Hampden. This is a game we have to win, and Bauer should be selected for it irrespective of whether he’s here next season or not.
One of the main question marks over Frimpong is his defensive ability. Sure, we’ll find out about it further down the line, but is this really the game to see how he gets on? Frimpong should only be playing if we’re confident in both his attacking and defensive traits.
Bauer has proven he’s a solid enough defender. He may not be as quick as Frimpong, but he has a real point to prove.
Frimpong will get his chance in this fixture one day. But for a cup final at Hampden, Lenny simply must go with the seemingly reliable Bauer. Regardless of how unpopular a decision it may be.