He describes his personal situation as being difficult rather than desperate but, nonetheless, the radical aversive action now being taken speaks to a growing concern.

Cristian Gamboa appears to be so far out of the picture at Celtic that surely not even a wide-angled lens could now capture him.

He hasn’t featured in any of Brendan Rodgers’ past five squads, with the Celtic manager apparently favouring a change of defensive formation before fielding the Costa Rican in Mikael Lustig’s absence.

Cristian Gamboa (left) remains a regular with Costa Rica despite not playing much for Celtic

Cristian Gamboa (left) remains a regular with Costa Rica despite not playing much for Celtic

Cristian Gamboa (left) remains a regular with Costa Rica despite not playing much for Celtic

To say the least, it’s a curious state of affairs. The only logical deduction to be made is that Rodgers’ initial liking for the player has simply wavered to the extent that he no longer trusts him.

Signed on a three-year deal from West Brom at the outset of Rodgers’ reign, the defender played 21 times last season but has featured on just three occasions this term.

If the upside of that, to date, has been the loyalty shown to him by his national team manager Oscar Ramirez, the 28-year-old cannot afford to take that for granted.

An integral part of the Costa Rica squad which reached the quarter finals of the last World Cup, the 28-year-old’s sights are now trained on a return to that stage with the small matter of matches with Brazil, Switzerland and Serbia edging ever closer.

The prospect of facing such opponents while undercooked is troubling in the extreme. Accordingly, there isn’t a stone the defender will leave unturned as he seeks to ensure that will not be the case.

‘It is a difficult situation and it is not ideal,’ Gamboa said.

Gamboa has only made three appearances this season and has not been in past five squads

Gamboa has only made three appearances this season and has not been in past five squads

Gamboa has only made three appearances this season and has not been in past five squads

‘But, I just have to make sure I am fit and I am ready for the World Cup.

‘The good thing is that I know Costa Rica trust me a lot.

‘I have played 60 odd games for them and the manager knows I have experience of playing in a World Cup.

‘I can only take what Celtic give me and hopefully be ready.

‘The World Cup is a massive thing for me and that’s why I’m doing all that I can. I cannot demand to play in every game as that is not my decision.

‘That’s why I have being doing extra sessions after training.

‘I have brought a personal trainer over from Spain to help me.

‘I have been working with this guy for the last two weeks and I will keep working with him until the end of the season.

‘I need to think about myself now.

‘I have been doing a lot of extra work in the gym because I know that situation at Celtic.

‘It is difficult for me because they are winning every weekend.

‘The quality of training at Celtic every day is very good but you still need extra and you need to find this by yourself.’

Gamboa is out of favour under Brendan Rodgers after signing a three-year deal in 2016

Gamboa is out of favour under Brendan Rodgers after signing a three-year deal in 2016

Gamboa is out of favour under Brendan Rodgers after signing a three-year deal in 2016

As deeply unsatisfying as the situation is, Gamboa harbours no grudges. He respects the fact that Rodgers’ concerns begin and end with Celtic’s quest for a second successive Treble. International considerations are of minimal interest to the manager.

As mystifying as Gamboa’s disappearing act has been, he’s hardly the first player in history to fall out of consideration at a club and he assuredly won’t be he last.

‘I have spoken to the manager and he understands the situation.

‘I also understand his situation.

‘He has Mikael Lustig and now Jack Hendry, who can also play right back.

‘I need to take care of myself. If they need me then I have to be ready. I’m just waiting.’

Deep down, though, he must feel he is doing so in vain. A failure to make the 18 who won at Ibrox, with Lustig suspended and seated in the stand, was one thing. To watch from the same vantage point eight days previously against Morton surely confirmed a parting of the ways this summer.

‘Celtic is a big club and sometimes you have to accept these decisions,’ Gamboa reflected.

‘I can’t say it is good or it is wrong.

‘I’m happy to be part of a great club like Celtic.

‘Celtic give you the opportunity to win trophies.

‘You cannot complain too much about not playing as they are always winning.

‘You cannot fix your roof when it is raining. I need to support the players that are playing.’

His problems are very much of the first world variety. Still with a year to run on his contract, the ex-West Brom player is hardly facing a lifetime of destitution on account of his current predicament.

Gamboa also played for Costa Rica against Scotland at Hampden Park last week

Gamboa also played for Costa Rica against Scotland at Hampden Park last week

Gamboa also played for Costa Rica against Scotland at Hampden Park last week

As things stand, he still has every chance of playing a small part in Scottish football history in the making.

And, provided those additional training sessions keep him in contention for his country, this summer he will be the envy of many.

‘For me I just have to think about myself,’ he said.

‘My aim is just to finish the season well with Celtic.

‘It would be nice to finish with another Treble. A double Treble would be good.

‘For now, I just want to concentrate on getting to the World Cup and then see what happens.

‘I suppose if I could win three medals and play in Russia it would still be a good season.’

At least he bagged the bragging rights last Friday. In playing 75 minutes of the victory at Hampden Gamboa ensured that, no matter how peripheral he remains at his club, he was able to prove a salient point to many observers.

‘I was joking with all the Scotland boys before the game so it will be nice going back to Lennoxtown having won,’ he added.

‘I think Scotland did well, certainly in the second half, and it was good preparation for us for the World Cup.’

 



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