Celtic academy graduate Calvin Miller is back in pre-season training with the squad, but has a chance now opened up for him?
Nobody was surprised to see Emilio Izaguirre walk out the door at the end of last season. His contract was up, and despite featuring on 19 occasions last term, there was something missing. Izzy wasn’t what he was back during his first spell at the club, and that was understandable. But Celtic and the player clearly agreed it was time for both to move on.
So now, out of nowhere, a spot has opened up as back-up to Kieran Tierney. You could argue that Jonny Hayes commands it. After all, he made a handful of left-back appearances for the club last season. Whilst that’s true, Hayes surely will have his eyes on trying to force his way into the left-wing position over the struggling Scott Sinclair.
Celtic also have Andrew Gutman on loan at Charlotte Independence. The Hoops have the option to recall him this summer and bring him back to be Tierney’s understudy. But the American is flying with the USL side, and has notched three goals and 12 appearances so far in the States. Leaving Gutman where he is seems like the best idea for now.
That would leave Miller as the only recognisable left-back outside of Tierney. But there’s also a glaring problem in that regard that can’t be ignored.
Despite managing 16 appearances with Dundee in the first half of last season at left-back, he featured on another 14 occasions with Ayr United in more attacking positions. Miller, therefore, hasn’t had much of a chance to continue his left-back development.
Does Neil Lennon agree he’s a left-back?
Then again, question marks could also be asked of whether Neil Lennon even views him as a left-back. It was Brendan Rodgers who came up with the idea several years ago, and tried to transform him into an attacking full-back.
But whilst Lennon could have a different perspective, Miller would be nowhere near the first-team if he was to play in an attacking role once more.
You can also question whether staying here would be the best thing for Miller’s development. After all, a handful of appearances here and there this season wouldn’t be as good as consistent first-team football at another Premiership side. Just ask Ryan Christie or Kristoffer Ajer.
That’s a decision Celtic and Miller will have to make. But he was in some pre-season videos Celtic posted on social media, as he looks to impress new boss Lennon this summer. He’s already confirmed his own intentions to play more for Celtic this season (The Herald). That gives us a clear view of where Miller’s mind is currently at.
If he is to stay, however, he’s as well trying to continue his development at left-back. If he can have a solid pre-season, he could make that spot behind Tierney his own.
But, at the end of the day, Miller can’t take other options off the table. A loan move could also be just what he needs to make an impression in the Premiership.