One of the many positive aspects of the Celtic reserve team’s 4-1 win over Hibs in the reserve cup semi-final was the return to action of Hatem Abd Elhamed.

The right-back started for the Hoops in the game, and played the entire game as he looks to get back to full fitness.

That is a real bonus for Neil Lennon going forward, as Elhamed was very impressive for the Hoops until his injury problems struck.

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Celtic defender Hatem Abd Elhamed

Celtic defender Hatem Abd Elhamed / (Photo by Silvia Lore/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Indeed, the player, who was signed for a reported by the Scottish Sun fee of £1.6 million from Hapoel Be’er Shiva in the summer, has been limited to only 13 appearances for the club this season.

Out of action since November

He has not played for the team since the 2-1 win over Lazio in Rome in November, as he has suffered a series of setbacks in his bid to return to the team.

Most notably when the Scottish Sun reported that he picked up a groin injury when the Hoops were in Dubai during the winter break.

Celtic defender Hatem Abd Elhamed in action

Celtic defender Hatem Abd Elhamed in action / (Photo by Marco Rosi/Getty Images)

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Now Elhamed is back, and could be in contention for a first-team place quite soon. However, the player’s injury record shows that Celtic will have to be sensible when it comes to how much game time he can take part in.

Other options are available at the moment

There is no need to rush him back in the team, the Hoops already have two right-backs in the squad, in Jeremie Frimpong and Moritz Bauer.

If the Hoops had an injury crisis at right-back then it would make sense to fast track Elhamed to the first-team, but there is no need to do that.

What Celtic should do is give the player a few more 90 minutes for the reserves. Once he has shown that he can play a few games without suffering another injury, then Elhamed can be under consideration for a first-team return.

Until then though, it is better to tread carefully with the player, to ensure that he stays fit for the weeks and months ahead.

Just when should Hatem Abd Elhamed return to the Celtic starting line-up? Should Celtic not rush him back into the side? Share your thoughts below with a comment in our new discussion forum…

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