Celtic reportedly interested in Watford youngster Tom Leighton

By David Walton

May 13, 2019

Celtic are reportedly interested in signing Watford youngster Tom Leighton.

According to the Daily Record, reports claim that the defender is keen on a move back to Scotland. He came through the increasingly popular Motherwell youth academy. That’s the same system to produce the likes of David Turnbull, Jake Hastie, and Chris Cadden respectively.

Leighton moved to Watford in the summer of 2017. Since then, however, the youngster hasn’t been given a look-in at first-team level.

Could Tom Leighton be playing at Celtic Park one day? (Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)

The centre-back is comfortable on the ball and can play out from the back, something Celtic seem to like in their defenders.

This season, Leighton has been featuring for Watford at under-23 level. He’s so far played for both that side and the under-19s too. At youth level, the youngster is certainly experienced.

He’s also featured for Northern Ireland at under-19 level also. But it’s highly unlikely that Leighton would be considered for a spot anywhere near the first-team. The youngster is still making his mark at youth level, and with 10-in-a-row the main target for Celtic, no big risks can be taken.

One for the reserves

If Celtic pull a deal off here, then it’s highly unlikely to make any sort of impact to the first-team. This screams like a signing for the development squad if it was to happen.

Tommy McIntyre could be tasked with watching over Leighton’s development if he signs (Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

There remains big questions to be asked of our youth set-up too. Celtic have already stated a desire to leave the SPFL Reserve League before next season. But if we’re going to do that, there needs to be a solid alternative in place. As it stands, Celtic don’t seem to have that.

The Reserve League only contains 17-game campaigns. Considering the first-team play more than double that in their league campaign, it doesn’t exactly set the youngsters up nicely for the step-up.

The Celtic youngsters need to be tested on a weekly basis (Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

The likes of Robbie Deas, Jack Aitchison, and Ross Doohan have all managed to go out on loan and bag game-time elsewhere. This has allowed them to enjoy their Reserve League season as well as regular first-team football at senior level.

Leighton could have to look for something similar if he moves to Parkhead. But as of yet, there’s been no confirmation of the interest from either Neil Lennon or the club.