HATEM ABD ELHAMED may not quite yet officially be a Celtic player, with the defender facing an anxious wait to see if he will be granted a work permit in order to finalise his £1.6m move from Israeli side Hapoel Be’er Sheva, but with a little help from his friends, he is expected to be able to put pen to paper shortly.

The hold-up has been caused by the fact that the 28-year-old has so far only been capped once by his country, but Israel head coach Andreas Herzog and sports director Willi Rotensteiner have gone to bat for Abd Elhamed, writing to the SFA to affirm their support for the player and to assure the authorities that he is very much a part of the national team’s plans going forward.

Indeed, had it not been for a car accident suffered earlier in his career, Abd Elhamed would likely have had enough caps to meet the threshold, and Celtic will hope those mitigating circumstances will be taken into account when the decision is made on his permit.

So, presuming that call goes in his favour, what sort of player will Celtic have on their hands?

Well, one thing that is for certain is that he is versatile. Abd Elhamed has played predominantly as a right-sided central defender for Hapoel Be’er Sheva over the past two seasons, but there is a suggestion that Celtic manager Neil Lennon sees him as the ideal replacement for the departed Mikael Lustig at right-back, a position that has been giving him a headache all summer.

Can Abd Elhamed make the transition to be a mainstay at right-back? His trademark attributes are his pace and power, so that should bode well for him to provide the attacking thrust that Lennon demands from his full-backs.

From a statistical point of view, it is obviously difficult to do a like-for-like comparison to Lustig given that he hasn’t been playing in the position, but there are a few key stats that suggest Abd Elhamed may well be suited to the role.

His passing stats compare favourably to Lustig, completing 89.8 percent compared to the 83.4 percent completed by the Swede last season, and he isn’t afraid to carry the ball either.

On average, the Israeli attempted 1.8 dribbles per game last term, completing 56 percent of those, while Lustig attempted less at just 0.77 per game, though he completed a higher percentage of those at 74.3 percent. He has some way to go though to match the stats of the top full-backs in the division on this front, with his new teammate Kieran Tierney attempting a mammoth 4.54 dribbles per game on average, and Rangers’ James Tavernier attempting 3.08 per game.

With the change in position, Abd Elhamed would have to up those numbers, but the underlying indication is that he would be willing and able to do so.

In a defensive sense, there are also areas where Abd Elhamed has the edge on Lustig, winning 67.1 percent of an average of 7.75 defensive duels per game last season, whereas Lustig won just 59.9 percent of 6.11 duels.

He just edges Lustig in terms of interceptions per game too at an average of 4.8 per game to Lustig’s 4.7, so he appears to have the skillset going both ways to succeed in the position.

Perhaps the best testimonial to his ability comes from those he is leaving behind, with Hapoel manager Barak Bakhar admitting his team have suffered a huge loss.

Bakhar said: “We are delighted for Hatem and are happy for our club because of the transfer fee.

“It is not every day that a player from Be’er Sheva makes such a big transfer to a huge club like Celtic.

“However, in terms of our squad, this is a massive loss and it will be very difficult to get along without him, but that’s football.”