CHRIS SUTTON insists Neil Lennon should play Odsonne Edouard in the delayed Scottish Cup-semi-final against Aberdeen tomorrow – even if he is NOT completely fit.
The former Hoops striker believes the charismatic Frenchman should be given the nod at Hampden after only 25 minutes of first-team action in almost a month.
Edouard came on for Albian Ajeti in the 64th minute of the 2-2 Europa League Group H in France on Thursday night as he kicked off his comeback after testing positive for coronavirus while on international duty with the France Under-21 squad in Paris.
The club’s top goalscorer with 28 strikes played himself in quietly against the Ligue 1 joint leaders as the Hoops picked up a valuable point, despite holding a 2-0 advantage following two superb efforts from Mohamed Elyounoussi.
Sutton reckons he saw enough of the talisman to put him straight in against Derek McInnes’ side at the national stadium tomorrow with a 2.30pm kick-off.
The one-time England attack-leader, speaking to the Daily Record, said: “Of course, I’ve said many times that Celtic are a totally different team with a fit and firing Odsonne Edouard in the line-up and it was great to see him back on the pitch as a sub.
“Whether it’s enough to get him into the starting line-up for the Aberdeen game will be down to how Neil feels he has recovered from contracting the virus, but if he’s 80 per cent ready to go, you’d start him.
“He strikes fear into defenders and he also boosts the rest of the Celtic players when they know they have his talent at the top of the pitch.”
Sutton also reckons Shane Duffy, who has experienced a torrid time in recent outings, will rally to the cause as the campaign unfolds.
He said: “Shane will come good. He’s been hounded. But you can’t avoid criticism and he was rash again in Lille.
“Even though the challenge was outside of the box when a penalty was awarded, it was a needless tackle.
“You are not going to turn the corner if you keep making basic misjudgements. But given the attitude, the application, the effort, togetherness and the response from the Celtic players, it’s important to concentrate on the positives and there were plenty.”
Sutton is also backing Scott Bain to get the gloves ahead of Vasilis Barkas for the meeting against the Dons.
He added: “Scott did himself a power of good in goal. Managing to save the penalty which Duffy conceded was impressive and he couldn’t be blamed for the two goals which were lost.
“Neil made it clear he wanted someone better last summer when he went out and signed Fraser Forster when Bain was there. He did the same by signing Vasilis Barkas for £5million.
“But price tags don’t guarantee you starts. And, after that game in Lille, it would be unjust if Bain lost his place for the semi-final.
“Neil has an issue there now. I’m not totally convinced by Bain. He kicked away a crossed free-kick at one point which made me wonder what he was doing, but it’s about keeping the ball out of the net.
“And he made saves. Which Barkas hasn’t really done yet.”