Kristoffer Ajer has had quite the rise at Celtic.
However, recent performances threaten to damage his reputation at the club and dent his confidence in a big way.
For the 21-year-old’s own long-term benefit, Neil Lennon must consider dropping him in the short-term.
The current defensive situation threatens to decline even further if not.
Whether it’s conceding blatant penalties, going to ground far too often, losing possession or simply being caught out of position, the Norwegian’s mistakes over the last couple of months have been numerous.
It’s frustrating for supporters who had come to rely on his presence in the defensive line. When Lennon arrived at the club in February, Ajer was one of the players massively step up and deliver another treble of trophies.
There’s no shame in sitting him out for two or three matches. It’s not a final judgement on the player. I still think he’s good enough to be an integral part of the Celtic squad for years.
Right now though, he looks like a bit of a liability and Lennon needs to make a difficult decision.
Sunday’s match against Livingston will be something that the manager stews on for the next couple of weeks. However, it could be an opportunity for him to re-assess his options and consider how best to use his talented squad going forward.
Knee-jerk decisions shouldn’t be made, but Ajer’s defensive problems are beginning to look like a pattern rather than a one-off problems. It’s up to the manager to recognise that and fix it.
Perhaps he believes the Norwegian can play his way through bad form and get back to his best. He’s best placed to decide that.
However, with experienced players like Nir Bitton and Hatem Abd Elhamed available to partner Christopher Jullien, perhaps it’s time to take the pressure off Ajer’s shoulders for a bit.
There’s a sense of supporter opinion turning against him and that’s never a good situation, especially for a young player. It’s easy to forget he’s still just 21 years old.
Only Scott Brown and Callum McGregor have played more minutes than him this season. There are consistent calls for the manager to rest those players too.
Why not Ajer? He needs time and patience, but also the freedom to learn and develop further without constant mid-week to weekend pressure.
A match or two out of the team could give him the chance to reconsider his Celtic contribution and come back better than ever.