When Celtic lost Jeremie Frimpong last winter, it was a big blow to their aspirations.
The Dutchman wasn’t always the most focused of defenders at Parkhead but he was always a rampant threat from an offensive point of view.
His Paradise exit left the Hoops in the lurch. They all of a sudden needed to find a right-back and didn’t discover one until very late in the window.
The player they signed was Jonjoe Kenny as the defender arrived on loan from Everton.
It looked like a solid piece of business on paper. He was in excellent form for Schalke last term, being nominated for the Bundesliga Rookie of the Year award for his performances.
However, he never showed much in Glasgow, failing to set the world alight.
Kenny demonstrated promising signs in the final third but he was particularly abject defensively. He was incredibly poor in the Scottish Cup defeat to Rangers.
In the process of being described as a “horror show” by ACSOM presenter Paul John Dykes, he was at fault for two goals. The full-back didn’t get close enough to Steven Davis for the opening goal and then allowed Ryan Kent to get across him for the second before diverting the ball into his own net.
Kenny was poor in successive Old Firm derbies and it would be a surprise if we saw him back in Glasgow next term.
Celtic are still yet to replace Frimpong and it’s unlikely they’ll find his replacement in Anthony Ralston either. The full-back played just once this season and should now be usurped in the pecking order by Lee O’Connor.
The 20-year-old enjoyed an impressive season on loan at Tranmere in League 2 where his side reached a domestic cup final and also made it to the play-off semi-finals.
O’Connor starred at right-back but also made an impression in the middle of the park, applying a calm and composed head.
Speaking about the youngster earlier this term, Tranmere goalkeeper Joe Murphy commented: “Lee is an excellent, excellent player. He’s not a League Two player, Lee is like a Championship footballer. He’s clever, he’s really cool on the ball, very calm, and he’s like that as a lad too – very laid-back.”
Those qualities appear to be the polar opposite of both Kenny and Frimpong, two individuals who were rather panicked when defending one-on-one situations.
Murphy continued: “Lee is the sort of player who could play anywhere and he’d do a great job. He’s got a really big future and he’s a great lad. Whether it’s at Celtic or somewhere else, hopefully he can push on and get some more games under his belt.”
After providing first-team minutes to Adam Montgomery at the end of the season, Celtic showed they weren’t afraid to hand younger members of the team a go when needed.
Having earned just a second call-up to the Republic of Ireland squad this summer, he should be impressing enough to earn his senior debut for the Hoops next term.