FORMER Celtic goal hero Chris Sutton has named the player he reckons should lead the attack in the absence of the crocked Kyogo Furuhashi.
The one-time Hoops frontman has given the nod to Israel international winger Liel Abada to spearhead the frontline against Motherwell at Parkhead tomorrow afternoon.
The £3.5million summer arrival scored on his debut when he rattled in the opener in the 1-1 Champions League qualifier against FC Midtjylland in July and he has looked a threat when he has come inside as he proved with a double in the 6-0 win over St Mirren in August and he demonstrated his finishing skills with a rocket header in the 1-1 draw with Dundee United the following month.
HEART TO HEART…Liel Abada celebrates a goal against Dundee United in September.
Ange Postecoglou doesn’t have a ready-made replacement for 14-goal Kyogo with Albian Ajeti, who lasted only 27 minutes in the 3-2 victory over Real Betis on Thursday, and Greek hitman Giorgos Giakoumakis, battling a knee problem, already sidelined.
Looking at the worrying situation for his old club, Sutton observed: “Who does Ange go with up top? I think it will be Liel Abada. He looked really effective when he moved in against Real Betis and he’s got the speed and movement to slot in for Kyogo.
“They are different players, of course, but Celtic don’t really play with a traditional No.9.
“It’s all about movement, dragging defenders and attacking the middle of the goal.
“Abada could be that man, but he’ll need help. I really think it’s time for Mikey Johnston to step up.
“I’m a huge fan of his. He’s such a big talent and we’ve been talking about his potential for long enough.
ON THE BALL…Mikey Johnston has some questions to answer.
“Johnston is 22 and he needs to be producing in the here and now. As much as I like him, I would be battering him every day in training if I was still in that dressing room.
“Wide players need to know when it’s not about them. When to understand you need to release the ball rather than beating a man a couple of times.
“It’s not about fancy tricks or YouTube clips. It’s about sticking the ball in the net or into areas for others to do so.
“The likes of myself and Henrik Larsson used to give Shaun Maloney and Aiden McGeady a kicking on the training ground.
“They probably hated us, but it was for their own good. They were brilliant footballers, but they needed to learn the game – even if it was the hard way.
GOAL-DEN TOUCH…Ewan Henderson claims his first strike for Celtic to make it 2-1 against Real Betis after great service from Mikey Johnston.
“It’s the same with Johnston. We saw the good and bad the other night from him.
“He lost the ball a couple of times for the goals, for the second he tried to be too clever when he should have popped it off.
“But then he produced a piece of magic for Ewan Henderson’s goal and should have scored himself.
“He’s a frustrating player at times. but this is the moment he needs to soak up everything his manager tells him to become a key player.
“Celtic are going to rely on him in the next few weeks.”
Sutton agrees with Celtic legend John ‘Yogi’ Hughes who stated exclusively in CQN yesterday that Postecoglou will urgently require to beef up his squad during next month’s transfer window.
The Greek-Australian gaffer has been linked with a move for Japan international marksman Daizen Maeda, a player he knows well after buying him from his former club Yokohama F Marinos in February.
SO NEAR…Ange Postecoglou reacts to a close thing against the Spaniards.
Sutton, speaking to the Daily Record, said: “Postecoglou is facing the nightmare situation he’d have feared. Celtic are going into a crucial spell of the season and it looks like they will be without their two most dangerous players in Kyogo and Jota.
“The manager will be praying the pair of them can get back for the Rangers game on January 2, but until then it’s up to others to step up.
“It just highlights how light the Celtic squad is right now and how much the manager needs backing in January.
“Ajeti doesn’t have a future at the club and it only leaves Gio Giakoumakis as back-up, when he needs to recover from his injury problem. Postecoglou will need to soldier on in the meantime, but it doesn’t have to be a complete disaster.
“I actually think he still has the players to cope with the next few weeks – even without a striker.
“Manchester City managed to win the league without a frontman, so it can be done.”
IT TAKES TWO…James Forrest and Callum McGregor will play crucial roles for Celtic in the forthcoming weeks.
Sutton added: “It’s obvious the main men will have to drag the side through the festive period.
“It’s going to be down to Callum McGregor, David Turnbull, Tom Rogic and James Forrest to make sure they play their usual possession-based pressure game.
“If they do that the chances will come, even if they don’t have a recognised centre-forward.
“Postecoglou has faced huge challenges since he came in the door, but he’s managed to negotiate them so far.
“Getting nine points in the Europa League group was not to be sniffed at, especially when some of us doubted they’d get there in the first place.
“Celtic are still in striking distance of the top and if they can stay within four or seven points going into the winter break it will be a good job in the circumstances.
“It would be a mistake to write his side off if they can survive this injury-hit period.”
After the visit of the Fir Park outfit to the east end of Glasgow tomorrow, the Hoops travel to Dingwall to face Ross County on Wednesday and then the spotlight switches to the Premier Sports League Cup Final against Hibs at Hampden a week tomorrow.