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EDOUARD CRITICISM VINDICATED, INSISTS RIVAL

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ODSONNE EDOUARD has scored against only two Scottish clubs from open play this season – Hamilton Accies and Dundee United.

The striker has netted a meagre seven Premiership goals in over five months in what will almost certainly be his final campaign at Celtic despite his contract running until June next year.

Edouard has struggled to make an impact in a campaign that promised so much when the French ace rattled in a hat-trick against Accies on Flag Day at Parkhead as the Premiership kicked off on August 2. Neil Lennon’s men romped to a 5-1 triumph that appeared to be the perfect way to set course towards the historic tenth successive title.

However, the Hoops’ glory hopes are in shreds after a succession of bewilderingly disappointing performances that have seen the side carelessly throw away TWENTY points as they trail by the same number in their quest for another crown, the 52nd in their history.

Edouard, with 28 goals the previous term, was seen as one of the key men in that recording-breaking bid, but the 23-year-old attacker has failed to deliver. After his third goal against the Lanarkshire outfit, it took him until December 30 before he claimed his next league goal without the aid of a penalty-kick.

Leigh Griffiths set up the excellent opportunity against Dundee United and, with the team already leading 2-0, he lobbed the ball over the head of advancing keeper Ben Siegrist to cement a 3-0 victory. He is still waiting for his first strike in 2021 after firing blanks in the loss at Ibrox and sitting out the 1-1 draw against Hibs and 0-0 stalemate against Livingston due to Covid-related issues and missing the 2-2 deadlock in West Lothian in midweek with a knee problem.

THE LAST KICK…Odsonne Edouard scores his final goal of 2020 with a lob against Dundee United last month.

One rival player who feels vindicated in his previous criticism of the former Paris Saint-Germain prospect – the club’s most expensive player at the £9million fee he cost when he arrived in June 2018 – is Livingston’s midfielder Marvin Bartley.

The 34-year-old enforcer insisted Edouard was “not invested” in the Parkhead outfit amid tales of a big-money exit during the extended October transfer deadline.

Bartley, who was working as a match analyst for BBC Scotland’s Sportscene, made his controversial comments when he watched Edouard fumble his way through 60 minutes against St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park on October 4. Lennon withdrew the struggling hitman and threw on substitute Patryk Klimala. Leigh Griffiths, who was also a late introduction, headed in the opener in the 90th minute and the Polish attacker made it 2-0 in stoppage time.

The watching Beeb man, who played for Hibs when Lennon was in charge, was not entirely convinced about Edouard’s contribution. The player had also been hooked in the matches against St Mirren – where he fluffed a penalty-kick – and FC Riga and rested for the home encounter against Livingston.

At the time, Bartley said: “He’s set such high standards and, he didn’t seem himself today, he didn’t look fully invested in actually being at Celtic.

“Even his reaction to losing the ball…in the 60th minute he’s taken off and he can’t really argue. I think Celtic, obviously the window closes tomorrow, hopefully from their point of view he’s still there on Tuesday morning and he can kick on from there on in.”

SPOT OFF…Odsonne Edouard misses a penalty-kick in the Hoops’ 2-1 win at St Mirren in September.

Following his lacklustre showing in Perth, Lennon added: “Again, I was disappointed with his performance. He needs to settle down. Hopefully, after tomorrow he will.

“I can’t speculate, but I think it’s apparent it’s been affecting him.”

Three months ago, Bartley was the target for less-than-favourable comments from Celtic supporters who clearly did not share his views.

However, the former Bournemouth and Burnley star believes he has been proved accurate in his criticism of Edouard.

Bartley, talking to Go Radio, said: “I spoke about him earlier on in the season, it felt like his head had been turned.

“There had been bids coming and you had people on social media giving it to me saying I was wrong, but now you can see it, I believe that is the case.

“Celtic are such a big club, if you don’t want to be there – and I am not saying he doesn’t want to be there – but if any player doesn’t want to be there, then go and get someone who does.

JOY BHOY…Odsonne Edouard in happier times as he celebrates his winner in the 2019 Scottish Cup Final against Hearts.

“There are so many players in the market who would give everything to be at Celtic Football Club.

“So, you shouldn’t have players who don’t want to be there, don’t want to run, that don’t want to give 100 per cent, there is so many players who would give you that.

“And you’d much prefer someone giving you 100 per cent with a little less talent than a very talented player giving you 50 per cent.”

Bartley, as reported in CQN yesterday, said: “For me, the minimum requirement is to give 100 per cent every single game.

“As a player, if you’re not willing to do that, especially playing at a club as big as Celtic then you are in the wrong sport, it is not acceptable.”

If fit, Edouard has the chance of playing against Hamilton at Parkhead on Wednesday and could possibly open his 2021 goalscoring account at the Hoops.

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