Celtic boss believes in ability of Academy graduate; has big role to play this month

By Euan Davidson

December 7, 2021

Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou has backed Mikey Johnston to shine this month, in the absence of Portuguese sensation Jota.

Johnston, who’s had a nightmare two years with injuries, has stepped up to replace the Benfica loanee. In substitute appearances, he showed flashes of the technical prowess we’d missed for months. Getting more regular minutes, his lack of directness, however, frustrated some supporters.

However, a solid showing on Sunday against Dundee United pleased the boss. Johnston created opportunities, delivering 5 crosses, succeeded with his dribbling, and even showed an urgency in his pressing [Fotmob]. It was improved stuff from the Celtic Academy graduate. What’s more, Postecoglou said that he’s willingly taking on instruction.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

The Celtic manager said of Mikey Johnston [Herald]:

“He was good on Sunday.

“It was good for him to get 90 minutes and start working on the things we have been talking to him about. Again, with attacking players, they usually measure themselves with goals and assists – all the flashy stuff.

“For me, it’s the other stuff that is important, and that’s what Mikey did the other day. He has got talent. He’ll score goals and create assists. It’s about making sure he understands you need to invest to do that.

“He’s seen Kyogo, Jota, Liel (Abada) and James Forrest. They are all getting the rewards, but they have to put the hard work in.

“Mikey did that on Sunday.”

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It’s up to Mikey Johnston to deliver on his undoubted potential at Celtic

Mikey Johnston can occasionally be a frustrating player. However, he’s fit now, and will have proper time to work with Ange Postecoglou. That’s both on the training ground and in matches.

With Jota out, there was fear about how Mikey Johnston would do from the start. Turns out, he’s more than capable. There’ll be Dundee United defenders who have had sleepless nights after trying to mark him.

That’s a big relief for Postecoglou. The impression Jota has made at Celtic speaks for itself, and missing that kind of productivity is a real blow. There’s no guarantee that Mikey Johnston can match what the Portuguese winger has done thus far for Celtic, but if he’s able to perform consistently like he did on Sunday? Few will be too upset in the interim.

Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

With Daizen Maeda looking increasingly likely to join Celtic, there could be even more competition for Mikey Johnston to come in January. However, that’s got to be seen as a challenge and an opportunity if the Celtic Academy graduate wants to really excel in the Hoops.

It’s an interesting time; there’s no doubt of that. And Mikey Johnston featuring has only added to the intrigue. Celtic fans were aware of his talents, but there are question marks about his consistency.

He’ll have ample opportunity to shine this month. The smart money’s on him doing it.

Read more: J League expert says Celtic could pull off a transfer heist “worthy of a podcast series”