Out-of-favour Rogic will stay at Celtic, claims Hoops great McDonald

Tom Rogic warms up before a Celtic match Source: Getty Images

Celtic fans can expect Tom Rogic to see out the remaining three years of his contract - even if he remains a peripheral presence at Parkhead.

That’s the belief of Hoops great Scott McDonald, as the Australia playmaker struggles to convince coach Neil Lennon of his merits as a starting player for the nine-in-row Scottish Premiership champions.

Rogic, 27, started just 10 league games under Lennon this season, scoring twice, and making a further six appearances off the bench in his seventh year in Glasgow.

But he’s fallen behind the likes of Olivier Ntcham and Ryan Christie, and Socceroos assistant Rene Meulensteen and legendary Australia keeper Mark Schwarzer have both questioned the wisdom of him remaining on the Bhoys’ books, implying he has outgrown Celtic.

But former Parkhead goal-poacher turned Brisbane Roar recruit McDonald sees him staying put - no matter what.

“Tommy’s facing a tough task now to break back in the way Neil Lennon has the team set up,” McDonald said.

“But he’s had so much experience now at a certain level that Lennon knows he can bring him on and he can change a game.

“Whether or not Tommy starts ever again week-in week-out for Celtic is a big question.

“I’m not sure that happens but, regardless, I think he’ll see out his contract.

“Nobody is moving anywhere bar loans in the next transfer window because (after COVID-19) nobody’s going to have money to buy.

“Celtic won’t let Tommy go for nothing, so I think he’ll have to sit and fight for his place.

“I think he’s very happy there - the times I’ve met him, it’s clear he loves the club.

“You see the adulation he gets even when he walks down the street.

“The excitement and rivalry you have there with Rangers... it’s hard to leave all that behind.”

The formation favoured by Lennon has seen Rogic’s influence diminish with fans debating whether to keep him or let him go.

“The system right now doesn’t work in Tommy’s favour - they’re playing two up front, rather than the 4-3-3 formation they had previously,” McDonald added.

“So they don’t really need a creative, attacking player in behind the two.

“They don’t really have the two sitters and a number ten anymore.

McDonald doesn’t rule out a scenario where sentiments change and Rogic - who has scored 38 goals in 189 appearances and created 34 more - can return to prominence.

“Things can change very quickly in football as we all know,” he said.

“Lennon knows he has to adapt and change to bring more success, and we’ll see in the pre-season what he does.

“You start performing and all of a sudden you get picked every week. But at the moment that’s not going to happen.”

It’s been a challenging 18 months for Rogic, who suffered a knee injury playing for Australia at the AFC Asian Cup and has struggled to ignite since.

But his ardour for Celtic is obvious.

“It seems like a long time ago since I signed and it seems like I’ve been here forever, but I wouldn’t change anything,” Rogic said recently.

“I’ve had ups and downs as everyone has in football, but I can look back on the last five years and be proud of my achievements and fortunate to have been at this club for that period of time.”