Pundit Says He’d Be Surprised If Celtic Allow Veteran Winger To Walk Away: Should Lennon Extend His Stay?

Alex Bruce Discourages Celtic To Permit Jonny Hayes Departure - Hayes gestures during a match
Celtic's Irish midfielder Jonny Hayes gestures during the Europa League last 32 first leg football match between FC Copenhagen and Celtic in Copenhagen, Denmark, on February 20, 2020. (Photo by Niels Christian Vilmann / Ritzau Scanpix / AFP) / Denmark OUT (Photo by NIELS CHRISTIAN VILMANN/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty Images)

In a recent interview to Football Insider, ex Kilmarnock ace Alex Bruce has said that he’d be quite surprised to see Irish midfielder Jonny Hayes being allowed to depart on a free transfer from Parkhead this season. The defender praised the winger’s ability to be a useful utility player for Celtic and even spoke about how Neil Lennon has preferred to use him in some of the Hoops’ bigger games throughout the season. Bruce then referred to the wide-man as a reliable name within the Celtic squad.

After Alex Bruce discouraged Celtic to permit Jonny Hayes’ departure, he said, “It all depends on his contract and if he’s happy with it. He’s a good, good squad player, you can see Lenny plays him in the big games and he’s one of them reliable types so it will be a loss to Celtic, losing him, because he’s one of those manager’s dreams. He can play a number of positions; he looks a good lad as well so I’d be surprised if he leaves, I’d be surprised if they let him go.”

What Has Jonny Hayes’ Legacy In Scotland Been?

The Irish international midfielder arrived at Celtic from fellow Premiership outfit Aberdeen back in the summer of 2017, following which he’s gone on to make 68 appearances for the Glasgow club. Formerly a graduate of the Reading youth system, the winger spent a lot of his early days bouncing around the English lower divisions, before eventually finding a place for himself at Scottish side Inverness. The 32-year-old has been around the Scottish top-flight for just under ten years now, meaning that he obviously has ample experience under his belt.

The midfielder’s best days as a player undoubtedly came during his stint at Aberdeen, where he made more than 30 appearances for five seasons in a row. It was arguably his nine goals and 19 assists from 32 outings in the 16/17 season that prompted the Hoops to make a move for him in the following summer.

Alex Bruce Discourages Celtic To Permit Jonny Hayes Departure - Hayes in action during a match
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND – JANUARY 25: Josh Mullin of Ross County tackles Jonny Hayes of Celtic during the Ladbrokes Premiership match between Celtic and Ross County at Celtic Park on January 25, 2020 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

Having made the switch, the Irishman struggled to make a regular place for himself in the side. Still, over the course of Neil Lennon’s managership, he’s been utilised in some crucial situations.

How Has Jonny Hayes Done This Season?

The veteran speedster has been used extremely sparingly by the Glasgow club this season, having made just 14 Premiership appearances throughout the entire campaign. While his record of just one goal might look underwhelming on paper, the fact that his whole Celtic career has resulted in only two goals throws light on the situation at hand. Although he has featured in 26 fixtures across all competitions this term, he’s started in just nine of those, in what will come as a frustrating statistic for the winger as well.

Alex Bruce Discouraged Celtic To Permit Jonny Hayes’ Departure: Should Lennon Let Him Leave?

The 32-year-old’s contributions over the last couple of seasons have been minimal, and it wouldn’t necessarily be the end of the world if the Glasgow club were to allow him to leave at the end of his tenure. The Irishman’s career as a Parkhead player cannot be branded as a raging success, and his numbers over the years certainly back up that claim.

With Celtic aiming to achieve a tenth straight league title next time around, they’ll be better off using creative and youthful players who can do a job, especially considering that they already boast a variety of experienced heads in the squad.

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