When watching Celtic toil to beat Motherwell at the weekend, one aspect stood out. David Turnbull had been substituted, again.
This time the 20-year-old lasted 80 minutes before being taken off. That is a regular pattern of the season, the last full 90 minutes he played for Celtic was the 0-0 draw with Livingston last month. Since then, he has started five games and not finished any of them.
In fact, this season, Turnbull has played the complete 90 minutes of a game only five times – and three of those were for Motherwell before he moved to Celtic!
Has been a stand-out performer recently
It is a mystery why Neil Lennon keeps taking Turnbull off before the end of a game. And it’s not like Turnbull hasn’t been playing well. In the past two games he has three assists, and he has been probably Celtic’s stand-out performer since the start of 2021.
Interestingly, in Turnbull’s time at Motherwell, he played the entirety of most of their games. If we look at season 2018/19, Turnbull played 34 games for the Fir Park team. He completed 22 of those games. He was only 18-years-old then, therefore it does seem a bit odd that he gets substituted so regularly for Celtic.
Perhaps the manager wants to protect the player
Perhaps Neil Lennon wants to protect the player as he is so important to Celtic at the moment. That could be a reason. Maybe he feels that the player isn’t ready yet to play a full 90 minutes for Celtic. Some players just don’t seem to have that in them. Tom Rogic, for example, another player who rarely plays a full 90 minutes.
It is probably a good sign that Turnbull has been playing most of Celtic’s games even when he has been taken off. It would be more of a concern if he lasted only 45 or 50 minutes for example.
Only time will tell if Turnbull manages to complete more 90 minutes between now and the end of the season. You would hope he does, as he is one of the few Celtic players this season able to conjure a bit of magic out of nowhere.
In other news, Jonjoe Kenny has impressed at Celtic at both ends of the pitch.