Two years ago Celtic made a call on the fitness of Jozo Simunovic after receiving specialist advice from Harley St. It was a value judgement on a player who has blossomed into an excellent defender, but who requires a specific training regime and is rested at times.
There are parallels with Rivaldo Coetzee, who failed his medical despite his injury never interrupting his professional career thus far. Celtic’s recruitment format is evident, buy and develop talent who can be retained or sold at a profit, but the latter option is only available if the player can pass a medical, and for Coetzee, that means an operation and recuperation period.
Brendan has the option of playing Kris Ajer in central defence from the youth ranks, or can move Mikael Lustig inside. Nir Bitton could be moved there for domestic football, but I don’t think we’ll see the Israeli at centre half in the Champions League group stage.
We have a first-choice pairing, but as has been illustrated with Dedryck Boyata and Erik Sviatchenko both out injured, while Jozo needed to be rested, we could do with cover who can operate at Champions League level.
Teenage Jason Denayer’s trajectory looked assured when he left Celtic in 2015 but the years have not been kind. He played second fiddle at Galatasaray for a year before being a jack-of-all-trades at Sunderland – once playing the No. 10 role. Needless to say, there are those who don’t see the potential in him we did.
The parallels with Dedryck Boyata, his Belgium international teammate, are striking. Dedryck was developmentally ahead of Jason when the latter joined Celtic in 2014, but that picture changed when Brendan Rodgers put Dedryck on a firm path, as Jason’s stock went the way of Sunderland’s.
The player would be a hugely popular signing for Celtic, but he’s just one name in what’s sure to be a stressful next 24 hours.