Kristoffer Ajer looked set to make his mark at Celtic as the 2017/18 season rolled around. The Norwegian youngster had impressed on loan at Kilmarnock in the second half of last season and, after making a positive impression in pre-season, appeared to be ready to force his way into Brendan Rodgers’ first-team plans.
And Ajer's prospects were only enhanced with Celtic enduring something of a never-ending injury crisis at the start of this season. But even with Jozo Simunovic, Dedryck Boyata and Erik Sviatchenko all spending extended periods on the sidelines, the 19-year-old's chances have been surprisingly restricted.
Even midfielder Nir Bitton has started at centre-back ahead of Ajer in recent months.
On borrowed time?
And with the Daily Record reporting that Brendan Rodgers has made Reading centre-back Liam Moore his priority in the January transfer window, Ajer may find himself falling ever further down the pecking order.
Reading manager Jaap Stam told the Reading Chronicle that he would be loathed to lose one of the Championship’s most solid centre-backs in the New Year. But a £5 million bid from Celtic may give The Royals food for thought.
Either way, Celtic’s burning desire to add a new defender to their ranks suggests that Rodgers is unlikely to fast-track Ajer into the starting XI anytime soon.
"The transfer window opens on January 1, so I'll talk to Rodgers and hear what the plan is for me," Ajer, who has made just four appearances this season, said in quotes reported by the Daily Record.
For now, it appears that another loan move away from Celtic is Ajer's only route into regular first-team football.