Kris Commons has questioned Celtic’s transfer activity in the central defensive area of their squad and believes it could prompt a backlash from supporters if the Scottish champions flop in their Europa League tie against Zenit St Petersburg next month.
Celtic yesterday allowed Danish international Erik Sviatchenko to return to FC Midtjylland on loan for the rest of the season, while recent German recruit Marvin Compper cannot play against Zenit as he is cup-tied from his time at RB Leipzig.
It currently leaves Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers with three eligible central defenders for the Europa League in Dedryck Boyata, Jozo Simunovic – who has been linked with Burnley, Crystal Palace and Lazio this month – and teenager Kristoffer Ajer.
Former Celtic playmaker Commons is concerned at the limited options in a key area of the side.
“If Simunovic goes then another centre-half will be a must,” he said. “That is one of my main concerns as a Celtic supporter, the weakest part of the defence has been the centre-back position with the mistakes and people not playing to their ability at that level.
“I know Simunovic and Boyata are brilliant centre-halves but if they are not quite at their A-game, then you’re going to get found out. Ultimately the best players in Europe are usually the centre-forwards and they certainly found that out against Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich.
“Against Zenit, if the two of them are fit, they are more than capable of doing a job but if they don’t there will be more pressure and scrutiny put on Brendan Rodgers and the board for not investing in another centre-half.
“The league is pretty much wrapped up. Celtic don’t need a centre-half for the Premiership, they need one for Europe where they have a two-leg tie against a very good Russian team – and they’ve just signed a centre-half in Compper who isn’t eligible to play in these games.
“Erik has now gone, which has raised questions, Simunovic could go and is it worth playing a 19-year-old boy [Ajer] who was thrown into the game against Astana in Kazakhstan earlier in the season when they conceded four and it could have been ten?
“Brendan will be the first to say ‘This is what I need, this is what I’ve got.’ If he loses a player he will need someone. But spending money in this day and age, and I’m talking £20 million on a central defender, is difficult and he could still be bang average.”