I’m no football scout, so I can’t give a professional opinion on players, let alone on one I’ve never clapped eyes upon before. The closest I ever got to that was when I used to play Championship Manager twenty years ago!
Having read reports that Brendan Rodgers has taken Moses Odubajo on trial, some minor debate has generated amongst the Celtic support. The player is 24 years old and been out of the game for nearly two years.
He suffered a serious knee injury whilst at Hull City in July 2016. Since then he’s been on the road to recovery with no real first team game time.
The Yorkshire club saw fit to splash out £3.5M on the right back in the summer of 2015 and was a key player in the club’s promotion to the Premier League. Due to that injury he never got the chance to prove himself in the top flight.
For Celtic fans the concern would of course be “has he recovered from that injury” and “is he any good?” On a free transfer there is little risk, but Celtic have also been here before.
Right back is an unsettled area for Brendan. Not because he doesn’t have anyone for the role, but more that who is going to be there for the next few years?
Mikael Lustig is the current default choice, vice-captain, but also out of contract in 2019. In his time at Celtic time nobody has displaced him from that position.
The Swedish international, currently on duty with his national side at the World Cup, is into the last sixteen in Russia and playing very well. At 31 years old, age may not be on his side, but he loves the club, the fans, has dealt with injuries better of late and is still a key part of the Celtic squad.
Cristain Gamboa, who just recently exited the World Cup with Costa Rica, was one of Brendan’s first acquisitions, but he has never made an impact in the first team. Before him, Saidy Janko’s services were procured from Manchester United, much to the distaste of some United fans, but even he failed to stake a claim.
The Swiss player did have his injury woes and found himself out on loan. Since his permanent departure, he has played for St Etienne and just recently signed for FC Porto.
Another right back Brendan dispensed with was Darnell Fisher. He was a product of Celtic’s youth academy and was able backup when called upon.
Brendan ran the rule over him as he did Janko, but his services were not valued either. After a successful loan spell at St Johnstone he moved to Rotherham United and now plies his trade for Preston North End in the Championship.
The question will now be asked if Anthony Ralston has a chance or if he’ll go the same way. Having signed a new deal recently I’d like to think he was in Brendan’s plans.
Personally, I don’t think Brendan’s purchase of Gamboa has been any better than what he has disposed of. In fact it’s been worse so that’s something he has to take responsibility for.
Whatever Brendan has in mind here he needs to think about the future. Should Odubajo get a deal it means there would be four right backs on the books with no clear front runner moving forward.
I can see why Rodgers is interested though. Odubajo had shown great promise up until that injury.
He made great progress with Leyton Orient and Brentford as well as representing England at under 20 level. It could be a gamble, but if his trial and subsequent medical went well, I see no reason not to take a punt.
It does still pose the question of who our long-term right back is though. Lustig, Ralston, Gamboa or possibly even Odubajo?