Celtic battle of Mikey Johnston vs Mohamed Elyounoussi is heating up

By David Walton

October 21, 2019

There were plenty of positives on Saturday and over the weekend in general, but the left-wing position may just be one of the main ones.

Celtic currently have Mikey Johnston sidelined. Neil Lennon came out before the Ross County game and stated that he wouldn’t be out for the long-term. Perhaps more worryingly for his competition, Lenny also stated that Celtic “miss” Johnston (Daily Record).

However, in Johnston’s absence, we’ve seen the rise of Norwegian international Mohamed Elyounoussi. The former Molde man bagged a brace against Ross County on Saturday.

Mohamed Elyounoussi has started life in Scotland well (Andy Buchanan/AFP via Getty Images)

That added to his first goal for the club in the Europa League against Cluj too. He proved an influential figure in the defeat to Livingston as he constantly tried to drag the team forward on that sorry afternoon as well.

To sum it up, he’s getting better and better. The Southampton loan star is starting to seriously find his feet in Glasgow, and at the moment he seems to be the first-choice down the left.

Lennon looks likely to rotate consistently

The battle between both Elyounoussi and Johnston continues to intrigue. However, there have to be doubts as to whether there will be a clear winner.

If Johnston comes back soon, Lenny looks likely to rotate. It’s exactly what he’s done with the right-back slot. Hatem Abd Elhamed is by far the first-choice at right-back. But with Moritz Bauer and Jeremie Frimpong impressing, not one of them has been playing the majority of games over the last few weeks.

Elyounoussi has already made his mark on a big game (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Something similar could easily happen down the left between Elyounoussi and Johnston. For the latter, however, there is real concern over whether he will be first-choice for key games.

Despite the fact Lenny consistently rotates at right-back, Elhamed still plays in the crunch games. When it comes to the Europa League or big domestic matches, it’s the Israeli you’ll generally see starting.

Mikey Johnston will meet the challenge head on (Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Johnston’s chance of being in the same position down the left is seriously under threat. Elyounoussi isn’t here to play a few games and head down the road. He’ll want to be part of something special this season, and playing a key part will be in his thought process.

Johnston does have the advantage of belonging to the club permanently. Whether Lenny would want to risk his own development to feature Elyounoussi in big games is a viable question. But as it stands, Johnston has a big challenge on his hands when he returns.