Christian Gamboa has been named in Celtic’s provisional squad for the game against Zenit tomorrow night. This is not to say that Christian will play in the game, but with Mikael Lustig out the manager faces a difficult decision about what he does with the backline.
Assume for a moment that he won’t risk a back three, and give them the room to run on the wings; any back four without a recognised right back would represent a tremendous risk. Hendry has played on the right during his career, and we’ve had Scott Brown and Nir Bitton there in the past but all three would be dicey choices at best.
Play Scott there and not only do you not solve the problem – you put a plaster on it at best – but you are forced to weaken the midfield as well. Nir looks comfortable as a centre back at times but a different kind of discipline is required to play on one of the flanks. It’s a different skill-set, something a lot of people seem to be unaware of in the modern game.
Jack Hendry would seem, on paper, to be the most viable candidate but this is a guy who is, primarily, a central defender in the first place which, as with Bitton brings with it certain deficiencies a good attacking team will exploit. But in addition to that, this guy is new to the club. Brendan will not play a new player out of position for such a high profile match.
You want to wreck a kid’s confidence early … well this would do it.
Calvin Miller is in the squad, which offers the possibility of playing him on the left and Kieran on the right. Tierney has deputised there for Scotland and I don’t believe he ever let the national team down in that role. Do not rule this out. But Kieran has a partnership with Scott Sinclair and if we’re going to see our best weapons used to their maximum effect you would keep those two together as long as you could, as often as you could.
I don’t see that. If you assume we’ll play with a back four that makes Gamboa almost a certain starter. Anyone who thinks Brendan wouldn’t chance it must have missed him playing Ralston against Neymar and co. Ralston is still injured, or else I wouldn’t be writing this article. Managers use the tools they have to hand and Christian is what we’ve got.
The manager clearly saw something in this guy or we’d never have bought him. He continues to have faith in him, or he would have been gone in the January window, on loan if not on a permanent deal. This isn’t a stretch … but is it a risk?
Tomorrow I guess we’ll find out, one way or another.
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