BBC pundit noticed something different about Celtic sub Mikey Johnston yesterday

By David Walton

December 3, 2021

BBC pundit and former Celtic striker Darren Jackson believes Mikey Johnston isn’t taking on the opposition anymore.

Mikey was rocked by injury earlier this season and only returned to the fold back in mid-October. The tricky winger has since been playing in cameo roles and has featured in Celtic’s last 7 league matches, bagging 1 start.

Disappointingly, he’s yet to add a goal or assist to his name despite his clear raw ability and attacking prowess. It’s clear, even at this early stage of his return, that his injury has rocked his confidence.

Photo by Laszlo Szirtesi/Getty Images

And Jackson believes that’s showing on the pitch too as he stated that Mikey is no longer doing what he does best – taking on the full-back.

Speaking on BBC Sportsound last night, Jackson said: “He has massive potential. He gets you on the edge of your seat, Michael. But he’s had too many injuries and he’s trying to get himself back. Obviously, it’s not his fault but he’s had a whole lot of injuries and he’s trying to get a run of games but he can’t obviously because Jota is doing so well.

“But I don’t see Mikey trying to go by players now. When I was with the 19s, he used to go past people like they were nailed to the ground. He was fantastic. It’s a confidence thing and probably it’s a fitness thing coming on to the game.

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“He’s a huge talent, a massive talent and he’s great to have on the bench.”

Mikey Johnston struggling to make his mark in Celtic cameos

It’s difficult to argue that Johnston is making the most of his minutes on the pitch this season. After an electric start to pre-season, he just looks like a player that’s had all of his confidence absolutely drained from him.

Last night he was given 18 minutes to impress with Jota coming off injured. There were a couple of crucial moments in which the talented flair-player had one-v-one opportunities with the full-back.

Instead of actually taking him on, he instead was happy to watch him retreat and remain goal-side of him. Whilst Johnston has the tools in his locker to quickly cut onto his right or left foot and make something happen, he’s at his best when he’s getting goal-side.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Of course, it looks as though his opportunities could be about to pick up. With Jota likely sidelined for the game against United, Mikey is the top candidate to come into the starting XI in his place. Ange could decide to play James Forrest or Liel Abada on the left too, but Mikey is in contention certainly given he’s a natural in the position.

It’s also important to remember that Johnston is still only 22 years of age. People forget just how young he actually is given that he burst onto the scene under Brendan Rodgers several years ago. There’s still plenty of time for him to make his mark here.

But he needs to find that mojo. The swagger that so often accompanied him in the past just feels like it’s deserted the winger in recent times. Hopefully, he can nab a goal or assist and use it as a stepping stone. He certainly needs a morale-booster.

In other news, Carl Starfelt is now finally getting the recognition his Celtic start deserves