FORMER Celtic defender Mark Wilson insists Cristian Gamboa deserves to keep the right-back spot at the Hoops.
The Costa Rican was a stand-out as a stand-in for Mikael Lustig in the 3-1 win over Partick Thistle at Firhill on Saturday.
And Wilson believes Brendan Rodgers has a big selection decision for Thursday’s Europa League play-off first leg against FK Suduva in Lithuania.
Gamboa had the champions’ supporters chanting his name at the weekend as he set up crucial goals for Moussa Dembele and Tom Rogic.
Now Wilson – who won five major honours, including three titles, at Parkhead – thinks the right-back has earned the right to keep the jersey ahead of Lustig.
He said: “I watched Gamboa against Rosenborg and I thought he did well.
“I read some reports and there was a bit of criticism of his display, I thought unjustified. He defended well enough and looked dangerous going forward.
“At that time I wondered if he was in the running to stay in the team for the next round.
“Obviously, Brendan Rodgers felt Lustig was the go-to man for the games against AEK Athens.
“But there’s no doubt in my mind Lustig’s going through a bad patch just now.
“He’s been a great servant for Celtic, no question. But he’s not been playing as well as he’s done in recent years.
“I wouldn’t go so far as to say he’s finished. But there have been times when he’s looked immobile, that he’s not got the pace or mobility he used to possess.
“I think that’s been shown in the last few weeks.
“I believe when Gamboa has come in, he has done a very good job. On Saturday, I rated him Man of the Match. From the start he made unselfish runs. When he got into good crossing positions he produced some great deliveries, particularly the ball for Tom Rogic.
“Gamboa’s got real pace going forward. He’s almost like Emilio Izaguirre was for years on the left-hand side.
“He has got the desire and pace to overlap at every opportunity. Coming off the World Cup, I think he looks confident within himself.
“When I saw the Celtic line-up on Saturday and how he performed, I thought he could be the guy who might solve the right-back problem.”