THE curious case of Stefan Scepovic could turn out to be a wholly unhappy case. It is the only possible reading of the fact that Celtic manager Ronny Deila was last week unwilling to provide any assurances that the Serbian would have any future at the club in the long term.
Scepovic has made only three league starts since his arrival from Spanish club Sporting Gijon in a £2.3 million deal last September. His capture prompted Deila to state that the deal had allowed Celtic to acquire “an important player”, the target man who would be different from the other forwards on the club’s books. The 25-year-old has certainly proved different… in as much as he has never been given a run in the side. Of his 23 appearances, 16 have been brief outings from the bench. His four-goal haul from seven starts is actually a decent return, but his opportunities to add to his tally could remain scant.
“He’s still a project. We had to work on that,” said Deila. “There has been tough competition there and he hasn’t yet had so many chances either. We have to look into that and try to improve the things… but in the end if people are not improving, maybe I am doing something wrong or maybe he is doing something wrong. Then we have to see if we think we can still get something out of him.
“It’s been different for him. The style of playing maybe, the tempo in the games is not what he was used to. But he has a lot of skills that we can use and need and he’s been working hard. He really tries to do everything he can so it’s tough. The competition has been harder. Leigh [Griffiths] has done well, before Christmas it was John [Guidetti] scoring a lot of goals.”
Asked if Scepovic could be shipped out during the summer, Deila said: “[With] every player, we have to see improvement all the time. It’s not only Stefan. It’s about every player.”
Meanwhile, Celtic’s pre-season preparation for their first Champions League qualifier on 12 July will include training in Glasgow for three weeks and playing three “low-key” warm-up encounters. Work to Celtic Park could lead to a request for Hampden to host Celtic summer friendlies.