NEIL LENNON should give Hatem Abd Elhamed a chance at centre-back.
That’s the plea of former Celtic midfielder Kris Commons who was far from impressed by the dodgy double-act of Christopher Jullien and Kristoffer Ajer in the 1-1 draw with Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.
The defensive pairing did not look comfortable with the rampaging runs of the buslting Nicke Karamba and brought back echoes of last season in the encounters against Lyndon Dykes in the two league games at Livingston where the champions dropped five out of six points.
Manager Lennon admitted his £7million French defender had been “sloppy” after gifting the home side a route back into the game via the penalty spot only 13 minutes after Ryan Christie had netted an exquisite free-kick early in the first-half, as CQN reported.
Jullien got into a muddle in a situation where he could have done a number of things, but, unfortunately, he chose to haul down Karamba right in front of referee Alan Muir who had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
Chris Burke didn’t give debutant keeper Vasilis Barkas the opportunity of a heroic start to his Hoops career by burying the ball low in the corner.
Commons, who left Parkhead in 2017 for a career in the media, told the Daily Mail: “Beyond the centre-backs, Greg Taylor is a solid left-back, but he’s obviously a downgrade on Kieran Tierney.
“I know for a fact that the club are currently in the market for another left-back, so you’d have to think Boli Bolingoli would be on his way out the door if an offer came in.
“Jeremie Frimpong is a huge talent, but he’s still a young boy and will make mistakes. Hatem Abd Elhamed is probably the most natural defender Celtic have. I’d give him a run at centre-back.”
Commons had some harsh remarks to make on the champions rearguard lynchpins after a stalemate in Ayrshire saw them shed two points after only two games into what could be a historic 10-in-a-row campaign.
He said: “If you were compiling a list of the best centre-backs to have played for Celtic over the past 20 years, the names of Jullien and Kris Ajer wouldn’t even make it into the top 10.
“When you consider just how much is at stake this season, that’s a huge problem which I’ve got no doubt Neil Lennon will be looking to address.
“Jullien, in particular, had a shocker. At £7million, he’s the second most expensive player in Celtic’s history, but he was all over the shop.
“What will worry supporters is that this is not an isolated incident. Jullien got completely rag-dolled a couple of times by Livingston’s Lyndon Dykes last season.
“Now it’s Killie’s Nicke Kabamba who is giving him the runaround. With the greatest of respect to both Dykes and Kabamba, you’d hardly call them top-level strikers.”
Commons added: “With the Champions League qualifiers now looming large on the horizon, Celtic will have aspirations of once again reaching the promised land of Europe’s elite competition.
“Yet, the thought of Jullien and Ajer going up against the Robert Lewandowskis, the Mo Salahs and the Kylian Mbappes of this world is frankly terrifying.
“What Kabamba and Killie did yesterday was expose a very soft centre to this Celtic team. He took it upon himself to bully Jullien and it worked a treat.
“Listen, in games when Celtic are two or three goals up and blowing teams away, I could probably still do a job for them at centre-half.”