Brendan Rodgers believes new signing will soon be ready to shine

By David Walton

September 12, 2018

Armstrong Okoflex’s Celtic first-team chances have already been given a big boost by manager Brendan Rodgers.

Okoflex signed for the Hoops during the close-season, and has been with the club for several months (despite the announcement of his signature incredibly coming on deadline-day).

The 16-year-old is expected to have to bide his time before making his debut for the club. The likes of Jack Aitchison, Mikey Johnston, and Anthony Ralston all had to wait in the wings before wearing the Hoops at senior level.

Brendan Rodgers has given youth a chance throughout his managerial career (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Yet, in this week’s Celtic View, Rodgers confirmed that he believed Okoflex could be ready to take part in first-team affairs “soon”.

“I’ve seen a lot of Armstrong and I can see that he’s a very talented boy. He’s at a club where he’s going to get an opportunity. You can see his qualities and his talents.

“It’s not easy, he’s only a 16-year-old boy moving up from London. But he’s adapted really well which is good to see. Hopefully he’ll be able to play some games at some point soon. That will be another nice, exciting step for him.”

Intriguing

The news will be intriguing to Celtic fans. Generally, a player of Okoflex’s inexperience would be farmed out on loan or have to wait for his chance in the youth squads.

Instead, it appears that Rodgers is keen on bringing him up to first-team matters soon. Not many fans will know what he’s about or even have heard of him before his signature. So long as he doesn’t turn into another Kundai Benyu, then it’s fair to say he could be on the right track.

Okoflex has represented both Ireland and England at youth level. Therefore, he does have experience of big games at that age. Spending a period on the books at Arsenal is impressive, but playing for Celtic is a massive step-up from playing youth football in England.

The likes of Jack Aitchison made a positive impression in the first-team (Vagelis Georgariou/Action Plus via Getty Images)

The Hoops’ demand to win every game is a challenge many players fail to tackle successfully. Whilst it’s important Okoflex is given time at Celtic Park, the onus will be on him to make an impression.

Rodgers seems to be talking him up more than he usually would a youth player. Whether this is because he’s a Rodgers signing or an extremely promising youngster remains to be seen. In truth, it’s probably a bit of both.

There’s no denying Celtic supporters wanted some proven experience in the door through the close-season. Fans are still livid at the fact they didn’t go out and spend some of the money earned from Champions League earnings of recent years.

But that has seen a big window of opportunity open for 16-year-old Okoflex. With Rodgers backing him and clearly willing to give him a shot, we’ll all be intrigued to see if he takes it.