CELTIC breezed into the final four of the Betfred Cup on Wednesday evening after swatting aside Partick Thistle in the quarter-finals at Parkhead.

Neil Lennon's side broke the 50-goal barrier at this early stage of the season in a dominant performance over Ian McCall's side with Vakoun Bayo, Tom Rogic, Olivier Ntcham (2) and Scott Sinclair getting on the scoresheet.

Sinclair got the loudest cheer of the night when he came off the bench, replacing Mohamed Eyounoussi, with around 25 minutes to go. The winger almost made an immediate impact, forcing Thistle goalkeeper Scott Fox into a smart save moments after coming on, before eventually getting on the scoresheet himself with 15 minutes to go.

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After the game, Lennon hailed the 30-year-old's impact and inisisted that the Englishman still has a role to play at Parkhead despite Sinclair's limited exposure to the first team so far this season.

"He [Sinclair] is still very much part of the squad," said the Celtic boss. "We have seen a good sort of reaction from Scott, he is not a sulker.

"His body language in training is improving all the time. He does what he does best, he came on and made a difference, scored a goal, looked strong."

While Lennon was full of praise for Sinclair, there remains a sense that this is the beginning of the end for the former Aston Villa winger. Five appearances from the bench this season - and a total of around 100 minutes played out of a possible 1350 - does not make for happy reading for a player who has shone during his time in Glasgow's east end.

There is no getting away from the fact that Sinclair has slipped down the pecking order at Parkhead. While he was a key player under Brendan Rodgers, Sinclair is now third or fourth choice under Lennon. Mikey Johnston looks as though he's first pick when fit as it stands - hard to argue, given the 20-year-old's superb start to the season - Mohamed Elyounoussi has been brought in from Southampton, and Lewis Morgan has often been preferred to Sinclair this campaign.

It is Morgan's continued inclusion at Sinclair's expense that has been most baffling for Celtic fans. Yes, Morgan is young and deserves a fair crack of the whip at Celtic but the 22-year-old hasn't exactly set the world alight in any of his 10 appearances so far. In Sinclair, Lennon has a player who has contributed over 50 goals and 20 assists since moving to Parkhead in 2016. And yet, he doesn't play.

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This is in part down to the tactics that Lennon employs; the Celtic boss prefers to set up his team with traditional, out-and-out wingers, and Sinclair is more of an inside forward. But goalscoring cameo appearances like the one Sinclair produced against Partick Thistle on Wednesday night show that he can still contribute in this system, and that the 30-year-old still has plenty to offer this Celtic side.

It looked as though Sinclair was set to leave Celtic this summer with a number of English Championship clubs reportedly interested in securing the winger's services. In the end, no move materialised.

But the fact of the matter is that, until January at the very earliest, Sinclair remains a Celtic player - and a bloody good one, at that. He may well leave but as it stands, Sinclair is available for selection and his continued omission from the starting line-up -and even the bench - is puzzling to say the least. Parallels can be drawn between Sinclair's situation and Gareth Bale at Real Madrid: both wingers looked set to leave their club, both ultimately stayed and now their respective coaches must find a way to use them while they have them.

As he has shown in the brief glimpses we have seen of him this season, Sinclair is too good to rot in the reserves. Like it or not, he is still on the books at Celtic and Lennon would do well to get the most out of him while he remains at Parkhead.