Jonny Hayes has had a difficult first year at Celtic.
There were always question marks about his signature from Aberdeen. The Hoops haven’t really been in the business of signing players with his profile in recent years – 29 years of age at the time and having never played regularly above Scottish Premiership standard.
His first six months were solid if unspectacular and at times he looked like a useful tool coming off the bench to support the likes of Scott Sinclair and James Forrest. By December he had made 20 appearances, eight of them starts.
The leg break suffered against Dundee must have been a major blow for the player personally. Just as he was looking like getting into his stride at the Hoops, he clashed with Josh Meekings and was ruled out for the rest of the season.
He recently returned to the first team in pre-season friendlies in Austria, but as confirmed by Brendan Rodgers he’s suffered another injury setback.
As quoted by The Herald, the Hoops boss said: “His thigh is a bit tight. It is a shame for him because he started the game quite well, combining well with Scott [Sinclair] down that side. We will just have to see how he is. Hopefully, we have just been a wee bit cautious, but he felt his thigh when he had a shot that just went wide. Jonny is a very dynamic player but hopefully it was just a twinge and it will be nothing too serious.”
The problem may not be as dramatic as the serious injury that ruled him out of action for months, but the fact is this latest setback couldn’t have come at a worse time, with places on the Celtic flanks certainly up for grabs.
The next couple of months are a great opportunity for Hayes to prove he is of the standard that the Hoops require but niggling injuries won’t help his cause in a make-or-break season.
If he doesn’t recover quickly from his recent muscle problem, he may find his route back to the first team is completely blocked off by the time he is fit and ready for action.