Laxalt in Europa League squad as Celtic youngster is dropped

With an exciting UEFA Europa League group to tackle, Celtic have taken their first tough step by dropping a player out of the named squad to accommodate new signing Diego Laxalt.

It was pretty much a certainty that Laxalt was going to be in the squad for the tournament. Sadly it does mean a player has to drop out of the squad named for the qualifiers.

For Laxalt, the only debate about him had been over whether he would be able to play against his home club AC Milan. That’s been addressed and confirmed that he can. UEFA regulations don’t allow any agreements between clubs to not play players.

Laxalt is therefore available for selection for the opening group match. That was already an exciting tie, now with this added twist. If only it could have been in front of a packed Parkhead crowd. Apart from the financial considerations, the atmosphere would have been electric.

In working out who to leave out Neil Lennon has to make sure Celtic comply with the many regulations for players in the UEFA Europa League squad. These can seem quite complex, but Celtic do have a good mix of players to help meet them all.

Clubs have to make sure they include at least four club-trained players, another eight players need to have been with the club for three years between the ages of 15 and 21. The likes of Callum McGregor, Kris Ajer and James Forrest as first team regulars help meet this need and keep a strong squad. There are further options for more players on a B-list of players under 21 years of age and with the club for at least 3 years.

These rules do all mean we had to drop a player from our previous squad with the parameters to be met meaning that it is Luca Connell who will miss out. That’s a shame for the young player who joined last season from Bolton.

He’s had only limited opportunities in the team so far but made a positive impression in the second half of a pre-season friendly against Hibernian. In practice it’s likely to be less of a shock for the player, he was behind a few others to get any game time and is likely to be aware of that.

The Irish Mirror reported comments from Connell about getting his chance at Celtic. This was back in September,  well before the squad announcement today, but suggested he understood the need to be patient and play the longer game for selection:

“I don’t feel like I’m out of place strength wise or fitness wise when I’m training with the first-team. I know it’s different when you go into games and are around players who have more games under their belt.

“I feel that, with not playing regularly, I’m in good shape so I’m ready to go whenever I’m given the nod.

“Patience is key. Every game is huge and every game for Celtic is a must win.

“Even if you look on the bench, the talent and ability of the players on the bench is so high. It’s always going to be hard to get in but I hope the chance comes. When that happens it’s up to me to take it.”

Many Celtic fans have called for him to receive more minutes following his impressive display against the Hibs. As it turns out, it not his time yet, but it will hopefully come very soon


Celtic Europa League A squad:

Vasilis Barkas

Scott Bain

Connor Hazard

Christopher Jullien

Greg Taylor

Shane Duffy

Kris Ajer

Jeremie Frimpong

Hatem Elhamed

Diego Laxalt

Nir Bitton

Scott Brown

Ismaila Soro

Tom Rogic

Olivier Ntcham

Callum McGregor

James Forrest

Leigh Griffiths

Albian Ajeti

Patryk Klimala

David Turnbull

Ryan Christie

Odsonne Edouard

Moi Elyounoussi