HATEM ABD ELHAMED is turning out to be Celtic’s man for all reasons.
The versatile defender, who cost a bargain £1.6million from Hapoel Be’er Sheva in the summer, was a stand-out at right-back in the 1-0 win at Hamilton at the weekend.
The 28-year-old Israeli also doubled up as an emergency centre-half a fortnight earlier in the 2-0 victory at Ibrox when he moved in beside Christopher Jullien with Moritz Bauer coming on for the injured Nir Bitton.
Some critics wondered if Elhamed had the qualities to replace fans’ favourite Mikael Lustig in the No.2 position and he showed on a difficult surface on Saturday he has the ability to add a bit more dynamism and thrust down the flank while never shirking a challenge.
The fact he can fill in across the back four is a genuine bonus for manager Neil Lennon.
Following the win over Steven Gerrard’s side, Elhamed joined up with Israel and completed another two 90 minutes in the 1-1 draw at home to North Macedonia and 3-2 defeat against Slovenia in Ljubljana in the Euro 2020 double-header before turning out at Hamilton.
Elhamed, speaking to the Daily Record, said: “I was in the middle with Israel and also played for 45 minutes at left-back against Slovenia.
“I feel I am capable of playing anywhere in defence. It doesn’t matter to me whether it is right-back, left-back or central defence.
“I’m confident I can make the right decisions regardless of what position I play in. I felt I did well for the national team and it has been a good start so far for Celtic.
“I’m happy to switch positions. The derby was a great experience for me. To experience that atmosphere was tough, but I feel I adapted well.
“I played two different positions, so I want to take the confidence into Thursday. The Rangers game was one of the toughest and biggest of my career.”
Elhamed added: “You have to adapt to the different conditions.
“If it is against Rangers with 50,000 or against Hamilton with a small crowd. You have to be professional and show your quality in both situations.
“We just had to win this game and we showed a strong mentality. We got the job done and now we look forward to the next game against Rennes.
“The conditions were not the best, but you have to respect the opposition and the pitch. I didn’t know too much about Hamilton beforehand.
“It doesn’t matter that we are Celtic. We just have to come to these places and win.
“We are in a good place right now and we want to keep that momentum going.”