EMILIO IZAGUIRRE has been assured by Ronny Deila that he still has an important role to play for Celtic this season.
The Honduran international was dropped from the starting line-up for the 4-1 win over Stjarnan in Iceland, with Charlie Mulgrew preferred in his defensive role.
Deila has also been searching for a new left-back during the current transfer window and has been linked with German defender Marcel Halstenberg, of St Pauli.
It has cast doubt on Izaguirre’s future at the club where his form has struggled to match the standards he set when being named Scotland’s Player of the Year in his debut campaign of 2010-11.
But Deila insists the 29-year-old, who is under contract to the Scottish champions until 2017, will remain a key member of his squad.
He said: “Emilio will be back. He’s a good player who has featured in about 95 per cent of the games since I have been here.
“We chose Charlie in Iceland and we’ll see what we do in the next game. Charlie is a good player with a lot of experience and he can fill different roles.
“Defensively, he talks and communicates better than Emilio has done recently, so it was better. We are also dangerous at set-plays and Charlie has great delivery.
“There are positive things in playing Charlie at left-back, but Emilio also has good things that he does going forward. He has speed. It’s the same as with strikers, you use them differently in certain situations.
“I don’t think Emilio has been anything different from last year. We talk a lot and he knows the things he has to work on to improve. He’s in our plans for the future.”
Moving Mulgrew to left-back comes at a time when the Scotland international finds his favoured holding midfield position in the possession of Nir Bitton alongside captain Scott Brown.
With Virgil van Dijk and Dedryck Boyata the first choice central defensive partnership, Mulgrew also faces a fresh battle to hold down a regular place in the starting line-up.
Deila added: “Charlie understands how important he is to us.
“It is difficult for him to play centrally because of the players we have in those positions.
“Competition is hard for everyone, but it is also important we can use Charlie at left-back.”