Odsonne Edouard Covid-19 isolation latest - plus why impact on Celtic may not be as bad as first feared
Among the Celtic fraternity there have been three stages of reaction to the news that Odsonne Edouard has tested positive for Covid-19 while on international duty for the France under-21s.
First, there was concern over the 22-year-old’s well-being. Let’s be honest, with Edouard’s age profile and athlete status, that soon gave way to ruminations on the implications his seven-day isolation period has for his participation in the humungous derby with Rangers on October 17. The third takeaway, meanwhile, would have seemed unthinkable nine months ago. It centred around how much Edouard would actually be missed were it to become apparent he could not feature a week on Saturday.
It is only a matter of days since his manager Neil Lennon lashed the player in stating that he had “three or four gears to go up” to recapture the form that made him Scottish football’s peerless performer last season. A comment issued after he had hauled him off after 59 minutes as Celtic struggled to break down St Johnstone - a recast frontline of Leigh Griffiths and Patryk Klimala required to provide the late goals in Perth that prevented Celtic dropping two valuable points.
It must be stated that, even if he has appeared a distracted, lolloping presence across the past month, Edouard remains the jewel in Celtic’s crown. A season of the, still, young player In his pomp, would be guarantee that Rangers would be unable to topple their bitter adversaries as they chase down the storied 10-in-a-row.
The fact is, though, that even with six goals from his 10 appearances this season, Edouard hasn’t had the sparkle of before. Having to hunker down for a fourth season at the club seems to have robbed Edouard of his lustre. He, and everyone else for that matter, thought the just closed transfer window would bring the bid that both club and player could not ignore.
Lennon’s hope is that the striker will now “settle” down and find his best form. Not training for a week diminishes the possibility that he will suddenly be returned to the unplayable Edouard of early this year in time to face Steven Gerrard’s men.
That gives the Celtic manager plenty of food for thought. Following his hamstring strain, Albian Ajeti will shortly return to full training. With a five-goal Premiership haul across only 300 minutes of league action, Lennon might have been tempted to give Steven Gerrard’s men an unknown threat to deal with in the first derby.
In the past fortnight, all four Celtic strikers - Edouard, Ajeti, Klimala and Griffiths - have found the net, so Lennon can have a degree of confidence in any selection he could make.
And, even if his sweet headed deadlock breaker on Sunday arrived on the back of his first 16 minute of competitive action in seven months, there might be a temptation for Lennon to throw in a curveball and week on Saturday and unleash Griffiths on the Ibrox side. As much as unfortunate, and invidious, things happen for him off the park, on it remarkable things happen for the 30-year-old, the man with a career bouncebackability, it can appear that he is made of rubber.
In essence then, Edouard’s Covid-19 diagnosis has cast serious doubt on his starting against Rangers that was no absolute guarantee anyway.
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