Alan Hutton has tipped Neil Lennon to throw Kristoffer Ajer straight back into the Celtic starting XI after a positive update on the defender’s injury layoff.

The former Rangers and Scotland star, speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, has lauded the centre-back for being “a rock” at the heart of the defence this season.

Speaking to BBC Radio Scotland, Lennon confirmed that the 22-year-old’s injury blow was “not as bad as we first thought” and suggested he would be back in contention for this weekend’s clash against Motherwell.

Perhaps tellingly, the centre-back was included in the Norway national squad for the upcoming international break, which was relayed by Celtic’s official Twitter account.

Ajer was absent from the Celtic matchday squad for the second consecutive match last night as Neil Lennon’s side slumped to a humiliating 4-1 Europa League defeat to Sparta Prague.

Hutton told Football Insider: “He went off in the European game (v Lille), didn’t he? It didn’t look great then so I knew he’d miss the weekend.

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“He’s been a rock for them at the back, whether they play a three or a four. Duffy and that have had a difficult time settling in so to have someone like Ajer missing from your first team, it isn’t great. 

“That’ll be great news to find out it’s not as bad as first thought so he’ll be looking to get him back in as soon as possible and really shore up that defence, if you want, because they have been leaking silly goals over the past few weeks.” 

Lennon told BBC Radio Scotland: “Kris [Ajer], he’s maybe not as bad as we first thought so hopefully, he’ll be available by the end of the week.”

The 19-cap international has already played 16 times for Celtic across all competitions this season and has one goal under his belt so far.

In other news, ‘Massive for Lennon’ – Senior Celtic player sighting leaves Football Insider pundit head over heels.