What next for Celtic’s Champions League outcasts?

As Brendan Rodgers’ side readies itself for European football’s premier competition, there were plenty of talking points around Celtic’s Champions League squad.

There were some shock inclusions with the likes of Irish pair Mikey Johnston and the resurgent Liam Scales making the cut, whilst others may feel aggrieved at being left out of the 25-man pool. Here’s a look at some of the surprise omissions:

Alexandro Bernabei

There was no space for Argentine left-back Alexandro Bernabei in Celtic’s Champions league squad, meaning Greg Taylor is the only natural left-back currently available at Brendan’s disposal for those group stage games against Feyenoord, Atletico Madrid and Lazio.

There is potential for Liam Scales and even Reo Hatate to provide cover in that position but Bernabei’s exclusion from the squad is very telling on what the future may hold for the 22-year-old who has endured a tough first year in Glasgow, both on and off-the-field.

Opportunities afforded to the Argentinian over the next few weeks in domestic action will definitely be one to keep an eye on with Bernabei’s future at Celtic Park now up in the air.

Yuki Kobayashi

Another whose future is up in the air at Celtic Park is Yuki Kobayashi who has struggled in his first 9 months at Parkhead.

The Japanese defender was signed initially to be a third-choice centre-back and a high-quality deputy to Cameron Carter-Vickers but a nervy display against Hearts as well as an abysmal performance in a 3-0 loss to Rangers at Ibrox meant that the writing was on the wall already for Kobayashi.

Gaining his confidence back has been a struggle for the 23-year-old as he still looked way off the pace in the pre-season tour of his native Japan and he hasn’t seen a single minute of football in the league so far this season. Rodgers clearly doesn’t see him as part of his squad so his exclusion from the team wasn’t a surprise.

Maik Nawrocki

The Pole’s exclusion from the squad took many fans by surprise and this may be attributed to an injury suffered in the latter stages of the 1-0 loss to Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.

His absence from the squad may suggest that the extent of Nawrocki’s injury is worse than previously thought as the 21-year-old started every game he was fit and available for so far this season. However, much like Alexandro Bernabei, it would be worth keeping an eye on his game time once he returns from injury to see if there is anything deeper in the Pole missing the cut.


Kwon Hyeok-kyu

The South Korean hasn’t been seen in a Celtic shirt since pre-season, his last game coming in a poor first-half performance in James Forrest’s testimonial against Athletic Bilbao.

He hasn’t seen a minute of domestic football so far this season and hasn’t looked close to getting a sniff of first-team action. This has led to A Celtic State of Mind suggesting a few weeks ago that a loan move in January may be the best for Kwon if the step up from the Korean second division to Scottish football is too steep.

A loan move would certainly provide the player with the precious minutes needed for development that he doesn’t look close to getting at Parkhead.


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