How Celtic can cope with Marvin Compper’s injury
Brendan Rodgers has admitted he faces a dilemma in defence ahead of Celtic’s clash against Rosenborg in the first leg of the second round qualifier next Wednesday.
Centre-half Jozo Simunovic was sent off for a high challenge on Jefferson Reis after 11 minutes in the 3-0 win over Armenian side Alashkert at Parkhead on Wednesday night, which took the Hoops through 6-0 on aggregate.
Following the sending off, Simunovic will miss the next game against Rosenborg at Parkhead and the UEFA disciplinary panel will decide if he would face further suspension.
Furthermore, Rodgers will be without Marvin Compper as the defender is injured again and unlikely to be fit for the first leg.
It has been a forgettable seven months for Compper at Celtic since joining from RB Leipzig in the winter transfer window. The defender didn’t make his Celtic debut until March as he suffered a calf injury during the side’s winter break in Dubai.
After that, the 33-year-old didn’t feature at all for the Hoops as he was struck again with more fitness concerns.
After recovering from a calf injury, Compper played in Celtic’s two friendly wins over SK Vorwarts and Standard Liege respectively. He struggled to make an impact and looked off the pace in those friendlies and now finds himself again on the treatment table.
It has been really sad for a player who is a highly experienced defender, having made over 150 appearances for Borussia Monchengladbach, Hoffenheim and RB Leipzig. He also had a brief stint in Italy with Serie A side Fiorentina.
In Compper’s absence last season, Rodgers had to shuffle his pack in defence by using the likes Kristoffer Ajer, Dedryck Boyata, Jozo Simunovic and Jack Hendry. And Rodgers will need to do the same against Rosenborg as he will be without Simunovic and Compper.
To add to defensive problems, the Bhoys will also be without key defenders Dedryck Boyata and Mikael Lustig, who have not yet returned from their holidays. This leaves Rodgers with only Ajer and Hendry as the only fit central defenders ahead of the mouthwatering European clash next week.
Considering everything, Rodgers must play a formation that involves only two central defenders. Ajer and Hendry will definitely be in the starting XI against Rosenborg, provided either of them doesn’t get injured ahead of the game.
If Rodgers decides to go with three at the back, which he shouldn’t, Kieran Tierney could be the third central defender, with Anthony Ralston and James Forrest for the wing-back roles.
It won’t be smart for Celtic to play their own way for the entire 90 minutes against Rosenborg. A change of system, philosophy and style that has seen Celtic hammer many opponents into submission last season could be in sight next Wednesday.
And due to the defensive crisis, don’t be surprised to see a change of shape against the Norwegian giants.