Karamoko Dembele’s debut at Celtic should be put on hold for now.
The young winger impressed in both of the cup finals he was involved in over the last week against Rangers.
Dembele featured twice, and showed some flashy footwork and strong bursts of pace too. He got his revenge on Rangers last night by winning the Glasgow Cup thanks to a 3-2 success at Parkhead. That came just five days after losing out in the Youth Cup final to Rangers at Hampden via the same scoreline.
It was a week where supporters were finally able to see Dembele feature in the spotlight. And he didn’t disappoint in what he can consider an extremely successful week.
But one thing that was also evident is that he isn’t quite ready yet for first-team football. Neil Lennon claimed that he could very well introduce Dembele to the Celtic team before the end of the season.
When you look at Celtic’s three matches between now and the end of the league campaign, only Hearts at Parkhead stands out as the match Dembele could possibly feature in.
But it was noticeable in the youth matches that he still has much more physical development to go before he should be mixing it with the brutish defenders of the Scottish Premiership.
When defenders got close to Dembele over the last week, it hasn’t taken much to shove him to ground. He’s been fouled consistently over the last week, and never got any form of protection.
Don’t expect protection for him
He can expect that to be the same when he jumps into the first-team. And, given his small frame, putting him up against the likes of Christophe Berra and John Souttar is not a good idea. That’s two centre-backs who won’t take any prisoners, and certainly won’t be going easy on Dembele either.
The youngster is at such a delicate stage of his development. The last thing he needs is to receive a crunching tackle from one of the powerful Premiership defenders. Not until he’s bulked up a tad and has developed a little more in his physicality.
He’s only 16. He only turned 16 three months ago too. There is absolutely no need to rush him into first-team matters anytime soon.
He has far too much potential to make a rash mistake on him. Considering his small frame, playing him at the moment feels like a recipe for disaster. It’s best if Neil Lennon avoids that for now, and looks more to the likes of Kerr McInroy when giving youth a chance.
Dembele is closing in on that first-team appearance for sure. But now looks just a tad too early.