Everyone wants to play every game for Celtic but how they handle not getting game time as often as they’d want is really important.
They don’t need to bang on doors to make a difference, they can make a strong point to the manager in other ways. Mohammed Elyounoussi has been making a ‘play me’ point to Neil Lennon over recent weeks. And what better way to underline that than to get the vital winner against Riga.
Elyounoussi re-signed for Celtic again on loan in a highly lauded move in the summer which delighted fans. He’s not had too many chances to get on the pitch in recent games though. With Celtic moving to a three at the back formation following Shane Duffy’s signing, Elyounoussi is often one of the players making way in the revised formation.
He was on the bench for the mid-week Europa League qualifier in Latvia and didn’t get on as a replacement for Odsonne Edouard until there were just under 10 minutes of the match remaining. He definitely made a quick impression getting a great shot away from Jeremie Frimpong’s cross to score and secure the win.
Elyounoussi has been talking to Celtic’s media team and the club site carries the story of his drive to get back in the starting line up. He talks about his delight in getting the chance to get on the pitch and of getting that decisive goal:
“Like everyone else, I want to play every game but when you’re not in the starting XI, you just want to contribute in any way that you can and I’m just delighted that I could come in and score the goal.
“Obviously it has been a little bit challenging that I have been left out, but I do see this as a challenge and there are two ways to go – either you go around being frustrated or you pick yourself up, take that as a challenge, train hard and show that you deserve to play.”
He definitely recognises the importance of a strong squad, which of course means more competition for places, that’s definitely healthy for the club. A strong bench to use and change games is vital and Elyounoussi seems to have a sensible view about everyone playing their part.
Maybe the midweek goal will help secure an appearance for him this weekend against Hibernian, perhaps again as substitute if not a starting place. If he keeps making that sort of impact and overall professionalism, he’ll do very well.