SPFL: 7 Players Celtic No Longer Need
A player can be deemed surplus to requirements for a variety of reasons. Some can be capable enough, but lack consistency. Others may be victims of having quality team-mates. And then there are those who are, quite simply, not good enough.
Celtic have used no less than 30 different players so far this season.
While most have contributed, with varying degrees of quality, to the Hoops' unbeaten league run, there are nonetheless several first-team members who are expendable.
Not necessarily "dead wood"—to employ the immensely popular footballing idiom—but dispensable nonetheless.
Here we take a look at Celtic's first-team squad members, including loanees, and suggest some of the players Neil Lennon's side could do just as well without.
As always, feel free to leave a comment if you feel any of the choices are misguided, someone glaringly obvious has been missed out or the analysis has been too disparaging (or hasn't been damning enough).
Despite a decent start to his time at Celtic, former Wolves centre-back Steven Mouyokolo has found his career—during which he has made only 89 appearances at the age of 27—once again undermined by serious injury.
It took just two competitive appearances before the Frenchman landed on the treatment table, this time with a ruptured Achilles tendon.
Early reports suggested the injury would keep him out until mid-February, but that now looks to have been a rather optimistic prediction.
He signed a one-year deal upon joining the club, meaning he will have less than three months to salvage his Celtic career.
Given the central defensive pairing of Efe Ambrose and Virgil van Dijk played an integral role in Fraser Forster breaking a club record by racking up twelve consecutive clean sheets—and considering utility man Charlie Mulgrew is at least as good as him—it's hard to make the argument that Mouyokolo is in any way important to the team.
However, while capable of playing as both a left-back and in central midfield, the 21-year-old looks increasingly unlikely to ever solidify a claim for either position.
The return to form of Emilio Izaguirre has rendered him almost irreplaceable at left-back, while Joe Chalmers, who is a year younger than Twardzik, has been loaned to Falkirk and is no more likely to stake a genuine claim for the spot.
And with the plethora of central midfielders at Neil Lennon's disposal, Twardzik is so far down the pecking order it almost seems crass to keep him at the club any longer.
At his height, Kayal forced club captain Scott Brown into playing as a right winger, such was his importance to the side.
Now, Neil Lennon seems happy to place new signings Stefan Johansen and Nir Biton above Kayal in the pecking order.
With just five league appearances this season and a glut of central midfielders to contend with, the 25-year-old has simply become an expendable part of Lennon's squad.
In the introductory slide, it was put forward that one reason a player may be deemed surplus to requirements is due to the quality of the other players in his position; Jackson Irvine is one such example of this.
In all likelihood, many of the things that can be said about Irvine's expandability can probably be applied to his rather more attack-minded Australian team-mate, Tom Rogic.
Both, though, are highly rated and around the international setup, are nowhere near the level of the central midfielders currently getting game time in the Celtic first team.
A decent, but not outstanding, loan spell at Kilmarnock this season has doubtless aided the 20-year-old's development, but it is unlikely it will propel him beyond the periphery of the first team.
Like Filip Twardzik, Dylan McGeouch arrived on the fringes of the first team surrounded by hype.
The former Celtic youth player had made his way back to the club following a spell with Rangers and was tipped to break into the senior side quickly.
A wonderful solo goal in his second match only amplified the hype, yet since then McGeouch has largely failed to progress.
Injury problems and fleeting glimpses of above average technical ability aside, a fundamental quandary of the 21-year-old's time back at Parkhead has been his position.
Though naturally a central or attacking midfielder, McGeouch is often shunted out to the wing on the occasions he does get game time.
With Kris Commons enjoying a wonderful season in a free role, getting senior experience in an advanced midfield position has proved impossible for the Scot—and that showed no signs of changing when his loan move to Coventry was announced.
Lewis Toshney enjoyed decent loan spells at Kilmarnock and Dundee, but would need divine intervention to gain any meaningful playing time in the Celtic first team.
His competitors for a centre-back berth are the imperious van Dijk, who is 22, Ambrose (25) and two 27-year-old's in Mouyokolo and Mulgrew.
Fellow youth product Eoghan O'Connell, 19, has been taking a seat on the first team substitutes bench lately following his impressive performances during the mid-season Antalya Cup, suggesting Toshney may not even be rated as back-up material.
TransferMarkt suggests his contract is up in the summer—and, like Mouyokolo, it's difficult to argue for its extension.
All sorts of hyperbolic adjectives have been used to describe Greek forward Georgios Samaras since his arrival at Parkhead in 2008.
Enigmatic, inconsistent, unpredictable, unplayable and uninterested have been used fairly evenly across his spell with the Hoops.
There is no doubt the 28-year-old can be effective—his European performances last season proved that.
And credit goes to Lennon for permanently converting the former striker to a left winger, for that is surely where he has been at his best.
But with the 6'4" forward on the field, the side tend to gravitate towards an unattractive and direct style of football, the success of which usually hinges on which frame of mind Samaras is in at the time.
According to Glasgow's Evening Times, Lennon recently admitted that he is in the dark as to whether Samaras will be at Celtic next season as he is out of contract in the summer and has apparently shown no intent to sign a new deal.
That prospect is not as daunting as it may seem from the outset—it may even help the overall ethos of the side from a playing style standpoint—though the thought of losing him for nothing is no doubt irritating to the club hierarchy.