Hatem Elhamed unlikely to repeat Israel left-back performance for Celtic

By John Reid

October 9, 2020

One of the most unexpected aspects of Scotland and Israel’s Euro 2020 play-off semi-final on Thursday night was the position that Hatem Elhamed played for Israel.

During his time at Celtic, Elhamed has played at right-back and centre-back for the Hoops. He has never played as a left-sided defender. However, that is where he played for Israel in the 0-0 draw, which Scotland won on penalties.

Elhamed also spent much of the game getting forward. It was more of a wing back role rather than anything else.

Hoops boss would have watched with interest

One man who must have been watching Elhamed’s performance with interest would have been Neil Lennon. The Hoops boss must have been intrigued to see Elhamed play in a role he has not taken up at Celtic Park.

Hatem Elhamed played on the left for Israel vs Scotland (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Even though Elhamed played well on the night, and was solid in both defence and attack, don’t expect Neil Lennon to use the player on the left-side for the Hoops.

Firstly, with the problems that Celtic have had on the left-side at times, don’t you think that the Hoops boss would have played Elhamed there in the past if he thought that he could do a job for the club in that position?

Hoops have just signed a left-back

Also, don’t forget that the Hoops have just signed Diego Laxalt to compete with Greg Taylor for the left-back role at the club.

New Celtic man Diego Laxalt (Photo by Marco Canoniero/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Elhamed might well feature often for the Hoops this season. Indeed, he has been keeping the fit-again Christopher Jullien out of the side recently. However, don’t expect him to be playing at right-back for the Hoops anytime soon.

It would be too much of a risk going forward. Better to give chances to the likes of Laxalt and Taylor who are natural left-backs, rather than play Elhamed there.

Still, it was interesting to see Elhamed play in such an unfamiliar role. It shows just how talented a player that he is that he can play in three different positions. Celtic are fortunate to have him in the squad.

In other news, Tam McManus would have selected Leigh Griffiths for the Scotland squad.