Mikey Johnston’s Scotland appearances will hopefully start to pick up at the tail-end of 2019 after a breakthrough summer.
The under-21 international is a regular with the Scotland squad at that level, but surely it’s now time for Steve Clarke to put some faith into the Celtic starlet.
Johnston, as of yet, has yet to be called up for a senior Scotland squad. That means he’s yet to win his first cap, and nobody can blame Clarke or Alex McLeish before him for not choosing him.
In recent months, Johnston has been chipping away at the Celtic first-team. He made 23 appearances last season for the Hoops, but he failed to stand out in Brendan Rodgers’ side.
But something just seemed to click with Johnston in the final game of the season at home to Hearts. He blitzed the Jambos with a sensational man-of-the-match display as he bagged a brace.
And over the course of the summer, he’s burst out of his shell to arguably become Celtic’s most impactful player of the season so far. Ryan Christie, right enough, may have something to say about that.
Scotland’s left-wing options don’t exactly impress
Using Clarke’s first and latest Scotland squad as an example, who there really stands out down the left? Ryan Fraser is perhaps the most accomplished as he continues to flourish in the English Premier League. But behind him there isn’t a better or more impactful player than Johnston.
Lewis Morgan was called up for the last squad after finishing things off at Sunderland. Johnny Russell can also play down the left, but neither are as good as Johnston currently is.
He would bring something totally different to the national team. Something exciting. Something – dare we say – vibrant. Some may point to Johnston’s lack of experience as a reason not to include him. But he’s 20. He’s easily old enough to start getting him involved with the senior squad. If the likes of Eamonn Brophy and Stephen O’Donnell can get in, so can Johnston.
Johnston’s now had enough experience at under-21 level. He’s played in major competitions for them, and he consistently stands out. It’s a decision that should be screaming at Steve Clarke in the face.
It’s time for him to be handed his Scotland bow, nevermind a first call-up. He could be the difference between a positive result against Russia on September 6th, or a poor one.
Time will tell in the coming weeks if he makes it. But surely it’s time for Clarke to put some faith in him in the same way Neil Lennon has.