Mikey Johnston’s Sarajevo goal took fans by surprise, but his pre-season performances certainly hinted at a major breakthrough.
The youngster played in all three of Celtic’s top-team pre-season friendlies. Johnston managed to score a couple of goals and assists during our pre-season camp in Austria and Switzerland. However, doing it away from home in a Champions League qualifier is on a whole new level.
Johnston rocketed home a fine equaliser from about 25 yards out after spinning the Sarajevo defence around. As well as that, the youngster looked the most accomplished of the Celtic flair players. He was our most likely outlet for a goal, and his technique on the night was well on show.
Celtic fans were quick to heap massive praise on Johnston too. Reacting to his goal and performance, here’s a look at what the Hoops fanbase had to say.
What a pler mikey Johnston will be for us this year
— Ryann_cfc (@_R_1967) July 9, 2019
Someone make a picture of Kris Commons passing on the baton to Mikey Johnston #CynicMbM
— 90 Minute Cynic (@90MinuteCynic) July 9, 2019
— Dominik Diamond (@DominikDiamond) July 9, 2019
MIKEY JOHNSTON. Mate he is going to be phenomenal this year.
— Sean McGinlay (@seanjmcginlay) July 9, 2019
I don't want to get ahead of myself, but Mikey Johnston is leading us to European glory
— Stuart Thomson (@Four_Four_Stu) July 9, 2019
Smashing from wee Johnston! Cut the sloppiness out now & get the job done!#Celtic 🍀
— John McConnell (@johnbhoy83) July 9, 2019
Thoughts on tonight? We think Johnston is so close to being the next big thing for Celtic.
— Club Celtic (@clubcelticuk) July 9, 2019
Mikey Johnston the best player on the park so far #Celtic
— MN7 CFC (@mn7cfc) July 9, 2019
Johnston’s Sarajevo goal enough to keep his spot?
You have to now ask the question of how could you drop Johnston? He’s had such a storming start to the campaign if you include the training camp. There also isn’t a more in-form winger at the club, and that includes last year’s Player of the Year James Forrest.
There were immediate concerns over a potential injury knock. But Lennon told the BBC that Johnston had just felt his quad and was taken off. Lennon remains hopeful that there’s nothing wrong with the left-winger, and hopefully that gets fully cleared up over the coming days.
In the grand scheme of things, it’s finally some genuine competition at left-mid. For too long, Scott Sinclair has gone unchallenged in the position. It’s been the Englishman’s to keep, and he’s regressed due to that lack of competition too.
Now, however, it’s suddenly Johnston’s jersey to lose. Lennon did seem to favour him over Sinclair during pre-season. Sinclair was playing against the St Gallen under-21s whilst Johnston was readying to face their first-team later on that evening. It seems as though for now that the youngster has won the shirt from Sinclair as it stands. You would expect him to start the second leg against Sarajevo next Wednesday too.
Out of all of the academy products in recent years, Johnston looks the most exciting. He has sensationally quick feet for such a young player, and the fact he’s nowhere near his full potential yet is scary.
Watch this space, Johnston is set to have a simply outstanding campaign.