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MIKAEL LUSTIG has been Celtic’s first pick at right back for a long time now.

The Swede has put in a significant body of work for Celtic over the years and won over the fans with his passion.

When you love a player, you’re likely to accept the odd lousy performance, misplaced pass and when they’re maybe at fault for a goal. That’s what I’ve noticed this season, the refusal to give up on the charismatic fullback when all evidence suggest Lustig’s not the player he once was.

People have put it down to the team underperforming as a unit, but it’s become glaringly obvious, even before the Aberdeen game that Mikael has been struggling and continues to do so. Yesterday, his lack of sharpness and tired legs got him sent off – misplacing a pass then putting in a challenge that was worthy of a second yellow.

Mikael would have been the villain of the piece if Celtic had gone on to drop points at Aberdeen – luckily for him, Kieran Tierney blasted the ball into the back of the net to put the game to bed.

I said yesterday when a player has given you so much; it’s hard to see them struggle and even harder to admit his time may be up. At this juncture, I can only see Mikael’s performances as a whole heading one way – yes, he might have the odd standout game, but consistency will elude him.

For people still firmly in denial about the player’s decline, they may point to Scott Brown’s resurgence over the past two seasons after looking down and out. They’re perfectly entitled to think that, but I believe the rest of the season should be used to phase the Swede out this Celtic side, bringing in Ralston or Gamboa to give them their chance before Rodgers has the opportunity to go shopping in the summer.

Lustig has been one of my favourite players for many years, so it’s hard to write this but it’s staring us in the face now.

We got the defender on a pre-contract deal back in 2012 and what an acquisition it turned out to be.

Like always, I’m happy to be proven wrong and if Lustig were to pull out a run of performances to make me eat my words, I’ll happily choke them down.

 

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