James Forrest’s injury at McDiarmid Park this afternoon could provide an important opening for Oliver Burke.
The Scotland international scored an important first goal in Perth. Celtic eventually ran out 2-0 winners thanks to Timothy Weah’s second late on.
But one of the main talking points to come out of this one is the bumps and bruises. Outside of Kristoffer Ajer’s red card, Odsonne Edouard had to be carried off on a stretcher before Forrest came off with what appeared to be a hamstring injury.
Brendan Rodgers hasn’t as of yet revealed the extent of either injuries. But, if Forrest truly is sidelined for a substantial period, Burke may finally get a chance to play in his natural position.
Burke is primarily a right-winger. That’s the position he learned his trade in, and remains his best. He featured there regularly for Nottingham Forest and WBA. Yet, the form and importance of Forrest has so far meant that Rodgers has been using Burke as a centre-forward.
Burke has played the striker’s role well
Burke has two Celtic goals to his name in five appearances. All of those have come from playing as the lone-striker.
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And that’s not to say the Scotland international hasn’t been doing a job in that role. His hold-up play has been more than impressive, as is the speed in which he moves the ball on. He was vital up at McDiarmid Park, and was arguably Celtic’s best player before he came off injured.
But it would be nice for Celtic supporters to see what he can offer down the right in any potential Forrest absence.
Rodgers hasn’t yet confirmed what his plans would be in that position. The Hoops manager has never been one to talk about who would be replacing who in his squad, so we likely wouldn’t know who would replace Forrest until we see the team-sheet for Hibs on Wednesday.
But, given Daniel Arzani is also out for the season, Burke is the only available natural right-winger. Jonny Hayes can also play there, but he shouldn’t be getting games ahead of Burke.
It remains to be seen the extent of Forrest’s potential hamstring knock. But, if it’s a bad one, Burke would seem like the perfect replacement.