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The surprising names missing from the Celtic substitute bench

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Celtic’s team selection on Saturday has created plenty of discussion, with or without the leak, but the substitutes bench was just as revealing.

Without six regular first team starters or contenders in Chris Jullien, Nir Bitton, Hatem Abd Elhamed, James Forrest, Ryan Christie and Odsonne Edouard the decks were cleared for Neil Lennon to delve deeper into his first team squad.

The team-sheet looked unusual with Ewan Henderson and Anthony Ralston listed. For Karamoko Dembele and Luca Connell it suggests a long winter with little prospect of worthwhile action to advance their first team claims.

Dembele was on the bench for the opening matches of the season against Hamilton and Kilmarnock, with less than a year to run on his contract it would be surprising if he is still a Celtic player next season. In 2016 Moussa signed on a ‘Dembele deal’ next summer it could be Karamoko going in the other direction.

Connell’s case seems curious. After a year at the club he joined the first team for three pre-season matches in France then caught the eye with a 45 minute showing in a pre-season match against Hibs. Since then there has been nothing.

Lee O’Connor and Jonathan Afolabi have gone out on loan but left behind Connell saw Ewan Henderson on the bench on Saturday. Ewan was given a debut and encouragement by Brendan Rodgers but a loan stint at Ross County ended early with no sign of top team football at Celtic.

The fate of the Development Squad isn’t exactly a priority at the moment but those not involved plus Cameron Harper face a testing time with only the hope of a Stephen Welsh type call up to sustain them.

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