Exclusive: Pundit insists Celtic handed 'Huge loss' after official update v Rangers

Celtic have been dealt a “huge loss” with Mohamed Elyounoussi ruled out of Sunday’s clash against Rangers, according to Noel Whelan.

The former Leeds United and Aberdeen striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, says that the 25-year-old is the sort of player who can win such high-profile games on his own.

Speaking ahead of Sunday’s showdown, Lennon confirmed that Elyounoussi, as well as Hatem Abd Elhamed, would still be missing from action after their respective injury problems.

Whelan says that while passion and tenacity are crucial for the occasion that is a Glasgow derby, there also needs to be a creative spark which the likes of Elyounoussi can produce.

“It’s a huge loss because in those games you need creativity, you need special players to create chances and do something brilliant on the day,” Whelan told Football Insider.

“Yes, it’s about heart, grit and determination and that passion that comes with an Old Firm derby but you need that quality to see teams over the line.

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“It’s a massive game, it’s a huge game because of the way the standings are in the Scottish division. Rangers have turned themselves around, become a force again under Steven Gerrard, Neil Lennon just starting where he finished at Celtic.

“This could be the defining game in the Premiership.” 

Elyounoussi has missed the last seven Premiership games due to a foot injury, although he did play 45 minutes in the League Cup final against Rangers earlier in December.

He has been an important member of the Hoops’ attack this season, scoring seven goals and chipping in with six assists since his loan move from Southampton.

In other Celtic news, Football Insider pundit claims that the Hoops could hold crunch talks over the future of a fan favourite in 2020.