JOE Ledley believes Mohamed Bangura will be showing a lack of respect and loyalty to Celtic if he agrees to play against his parent club for Elfsborg in tomorrow night’s Champions League showdown in Glasgow.
Sierra Leone international striker Bangura has dominated the build-up to the third qualifying round tie, with Swedish champions Elfsborg insisting they will field the on-loan player against Celtic, despite protestations from Neil Lennon.
Ledley has backed the Celtic manager’s stance, the Welsh midfielder insisting he would be of a mind to sit the tie out if he found himself in a similar situation.
If the worst-case scenario from Celtic’s point of view was to unfold, with their own player scoring the goal which eliminates them from the Champions League, Ledley believes Bangura’s return to the club following his loan spell would become almost impossible.
“If I was in the same position as Mo I probably wouldn’t play in the game out of loyalty and respect to Celtic,” said Ledley. “He’s contracted to the club and I don’t think it would be the best move for him.
“But some players are different and maybe he’s trying to get a reaction from people and prove how good he is. If he scored the winner and knocked us out of the Champions League then it would be difficult for him to come back.
“It would be a huge blow for the club and that’s why he must think before he plays. The Champions League is massive for us players, the club and the fans. What we showed last season was magnificent and hopefully we can do it again this season. We had a fantastic run and once you’ve qualified it can take you anywhere, you never know.
“We won’t blank Mo on Wednesday night. If he’s in the tunnel then we’ll shake his hand but when that whistle goes it’s totally different. All that goes out the window and you concentrate on winning the game and working as hard as you can for the team and yourself to win the game.
“We all know what Mo Bangura is good at and what he’s not good at. Whether he plays or not is down to the player but we know his strengths and weaknesses and it’s a bit of an advantage to us.
“It’s his decision, and you don’t want him to play, but if he does then we’ll just need to treat him like any other opponent.”
Since joining Celtic from AIK Stockholm for £2.2 million two years ago, Bangura has failed to score in 16 first team appearances for the club and is now in his second loan spell back in Swedish football. But Ledley believes Bangura’s reputation as a Celtic “flop” is harsh.
“He’s quick and strong and has been quite unlucky with injuries at Celtic,” added Ledley. “I don’t think we managed to see the best of him but I know he’s doing pretty well in Sweden so if he does play he’ll give his all and try and make a statement.
“It’s down to us to make sure we don’t leak goals but that’s like any game, regardless of Mo Bangura playing. We don’t want anyone to score and that goes for whether Mo plays or doesn’t play.
“We might try and noise him up a bit. He’s chosen not to take a step back from the game so we just need to treat him like any other opponent and if a ball is there to be won then you’ve got to go in and win it.
Ledley returned to action for Celtic in Saturday’s friendly against Borussia Monchengladbach, having missed most of their pre-season preparations through injury. He is hopeful of being involved against Elfsborg.
“I’m fit but I wouldn’t say I’m match fit,” he added. “I’ve only played 30 minutes so far since returning from injury.
“Starting would be a bonus but I’m fit to be in the squad.”
Ledley, meanwhile, has dismissed fresh speculation linking him with a return to Cardiff City and says he remains focused on a new deal at Celtic where he is entering the final year of his contract.
“I haven’t spoken to my agent for a while now so hopefully we can sit down and sort out a contract here soon. I’m always linked with Cardiff and they haven’t put in an official bid.”