Stefan Johansen’s poor form this season can be attributed to a debilitating hip problem according to his countryman and former Celt, Vidar Riseth.

This time last year Johansen was well on his way to earning the accolade of the SPFA Player of the Year, but his displays for Celtic this term have fallen significantly below par to the extent it was felt he was removed from the first-team earlier this month to take him out of the firing line.

Johansen has been on the receiving end of strong criticism from his own support in recent months after his performances but Riseth has offered an explanation for why he has not been able to replicate the displays of last season.

“I have spoken to Stefan a few times and no-one is more disappointed than him at how he has played this season. It is not like he has not been able to feel that he is struggling for form,” explained Riseth. “But he has been playing with a problem in his hips.

“Every time he tries to turn he is in pain and it is the same when he tries to play a long pass. He has been taking painkillers for the problem and trying to play through it but it has obviously held him back because it is impossible to relax when you are in pain.

“Everyone can see that he has been struggling with his form but this is why, or certainly I think it is a big part of the reason. I think he has wanted to play on through it but maybe the best thing to do would have been to properly rested it.”

Johansen represented Norway on Thursday night as the Scandinavians drew 0-0 in Estonia and Riseth has urged the Celtic support to offer the player their backing as he seeks to elevate his game to the level it was at last season.

“I didn’t see him play against Estonia earlier this week as I am away on holiday, but in the last qualifier we had against Hungary I thought that he was excellent.

“That is why Celtic should not give up on him. He can get back to the kind of form he showed last season, but he needs a bit of support. This is the time when he needs to have the support of the fans and if he can get that then it will go a long way to getting back to showing what he can do on the pitch.”