July 26, 2021

Elhamed set to complete Celtic exit

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Celtic right-back Hatem Elhamed has arrived in Israel as he closes in on a return to Hapoel Be’er Sheva.

Elhamed, 29, has only played 17 minutes for Celtic since the 4-2 defeat against AC Milan in the Europa League on December 3.

Celtic boss Neil Lennon said the defender has “really struggled” living away from his family during the Covid-19-affected 2020/21 campaign and a permanent transfer is on the verge of being completed.

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“He has had a really difficult time,” Lennon told Sky Sports as his side prepare to face St Mirren on Wednesday night, live on Sky Sports Football.

“His wife and young son are back in Israel and life away from the training ground and the club has been very difficult for him.

Celtic's Hatem Abd Elhamed (L) holds off AC Milan's Jens Petter Hauge during a UEFA Europa League match
Image: Elhamed has only played 17 minutes for Celtic since the 4-2 defeat against AC Milan

“Thinking about his health and wellbeing going forward it is probably the best thing to do. He has really struggled with life away from football and maybe some people don’t understand at times.

“I think the deal is almost agreed. We wish him all the very best.”

Elhamed, who joined Celtic from Hapoel Be’er Sheva in July 2019, signing a four-year deal, has only made four starts in the Scottish Premiership this season.

‘You are expected to win every game at Celtic’

Celtic are 19 points adrift of Rangers at the top of the Scottish Premiership
Image: Callum McGregor says ‘it is always a bad result when you lose a game at Celtic’

Callum McGregor has acknowledged that St Mirren offer very recent evidence of what can happen to Celtic if standards drop.

The Buddies’ 2-1 win at Parkhead in the Scottish Premiership on January 30 was their first win in the east end of Glasgow since April 1990 and brought more criticism on already under-fire boss Neil Lennon and his players.

The reigning champions responded with back-to-back wins for the first time this year against Kilmarnock and Motherwell albeit they sit 21 points behind leaders Rangers with two games in hand.

preview image 2:58
Highlights of the Scottish Premiership match between Celtic and Motherwell.

Ahead of the return fixture against St Mirren on Wednesday night, stand-in skipper McGregor outlined the pressures the Hoops are always under.

The Scotland midfielder said: “You are expected to win every game at Celtic, no matter what, no matter who the opponent is, and when you lose it is always a sort of shock result.

“Like the manager said, the performance wasn’t good enough, we know that. Everyone was below par and it just shows you that’s what can happen if you don’t perform well on the day.

Ismaila Soro 0:24
Lennon says Ismalia Soro could miss Celtic’s game with St Mirren after being involved in a minor car accident but James Forrest has returned to training

“In seasons gone past, that’s why we have been so good and so consistent, you go into every game knowing you have to perform.

“So it just showed again that if you come off it or lose focus or you are not quite right on the day that you can get beat and it is always a bad result when you lose a game at Celtic and we totally deserved it.

“The two wins have been good to try and build a bit of momentum but it is important for us to stay calm and keep working, keep trying to do the right things that have got us the results.”

Watch St Mirren vs Celtic live on Sky Sports Football and Main Event from 7pm; Kick-off 8pm. Follow the action with our Scottish Premiership blog including in-game clips, with free match highlights published on the Sky Sports website, app and YouTube channel later that evening.