TOM ROGIC has already proved he is a big-time matchwinner for Celtic.
But his fellow-Australian Scott McDonald, the former Hoops’ striking hero, reckons he may not become a bit-part player in Neil Lennon’s first-team plans.
Rogic knocked back a £4million switch to an unnamed Qatari club to concentrate on continuing his seven-year career with the champions in what his manager has called a “monumental” season.
However, the 27-year-old playmaker faces a real battle to get a regular place in the top side with Scotland international Ryan Christie, French powerhouse Olivier Ntcham and £3.25million arrival from Motherwell, David Turnbull, ahead of him in the pecking order.
McDonald, known as Skippy during his three years in Glasgow in which he scored 51 league goals, told the Scottish Sun: “I’m surprised Celtic are allowing Tom Rogic to leave, because he’s got such experience.
“There’s no question he’s still a quality player, but he needs to fit into the right kind of system and I don’t think Neil Lennon’s playing that system.
“There will be no-one more frustrated than Rogic himself. He’s been at Celtic for seven years now and had some great success.
“He was one of the key players in that Invincible treble year and beyond that through Brendan Rodgers’ tenure.
“When Lenny took the job, Rogic had quite a few injuries and he’s just not been able to find his way into Lenny’s line-up.
“Between him and Neil Lennon, it’s a funny one. I don’t think he played much the first time Neil was there, although he was a lot younger then.
“Lenny is obviously going for someone he feels has got more legs and you can’t really argue with Ryan Christie’s performances.
“But in terms of Celtic’s squad, if you lose Tom it’s looking a bit threadbare.
“Especially in those key areas where Rogic is a matchwinner and can come on and change a game for you.”
McDonald continued: “It could be very hard for Rogic to get back playing regularly at Celtic. I’m not saying it’s going to be impossible, but the impression has been laid down by Lennon already.
“If that’s the case, what’s Tom to do? The manager has the final say. Rogic would probably be an impact player for the rest of the season if he stays.
“But things can change quickly with injuries, or Rogic comes on and does really well, Lenny can change his mind.
“The truth is Celtic accepted a bid, so it tells you everything with where Tom is at the moment.”
McDonald, 37, still playing for Brisbane Roar in Australia’s A-League, admitted he wouldn’t be surprised to see a transfer for Rogic resurface before the window shuts on October 5.
He added: “For Tom, he’s only going to go to the likes of Qatar if it’s ridiculous money on offer.
“I can understand why he turned it down and demanded the type of figure he’s asking to go to Qatar, because essentially it’s the end-game in terms of his European career.
“He wants to make sure it’s a move that will set him up financially for the rest of his days, because he’s giving up a lot to go and do it.
“There’s no club quite like Celtic and once you leave you realise that.
“You can go to other clubs, but you will certainly miss Celtic Park. The sacrifice has to be worth it.
“I still think there’s time for this move to happen though, it’s not dead in the water.
“These Middle-East clubs can always come back with a bigger offer, so it’s watch this space.”