Celtic star Mikey Johnston provides promising fitness update

By David Walton

December 24, 2019

Celtic winger Mikey Johnston has provided a positive fitness update ahead of a crucial double-header against St Mirren and Rangers.

The Hoops have a tasty-looking appetizer on Paisley on Boxing Day before the main course of Rangers at Celtic Park on Sunday. Six points would give Neil Lennon’s men at least an eight-point advantage heading into the mid-season break.

Lenny’s team have been noticeably more threatening and direct with Johnston in the side. But ever since picking up an injury at Ibrox back in September, he’s yet to really have a run of games. In fairness, he has slowly been easing himself into things over the last month, but has still to string two consecutive starts together.

Mikey Johnston has slowly been getting back into the swing of things (Paul Ursachi/MB Media/Getty Images)

Speaking to Celtic’s official website, however, Johnston provided a promising message about his current condition.

“It’s been good being back. I’m just trying to get back fully fit and get the games in. When you come back in and the team’s winning, it’s easy to seamlessly slot back in.

“The first-team have nine games in December, it’s a hectic schedule but you get loads of games under your belt. For me it’s been a bit up and down. I was happy with the start of the season, injuries happen and there’s nothing you can do about it.

“Personally, it can be frustrating, but it’s something you have to deal with as a footballer and overcome it mentally. I’m happy with any minutes I can get, and I just want to play football at the minute. If that’s against St Mirren or Rangers, then I’m ready to go”

Neil has to have a good think for Sunday

It wouldn’t be surprising if Johnston misses out the Boxing Day clash against St Mirren from the start. Considering he hasn’t started a league game since Ibrox, Lenny may want to save him whilst giving him another cameo in Paisley instead.

Lenny must give Mikey more minutes ahead of Rangers meeting (Paul Ursachi/MB Media/Getty Images)

However, Lenny must have a real good think about what to do for Rangers’ visit. Some in the support want an end to the new system that sees James Forrest switched out onto the left and Ryan Christie moved out to the right. With Lenny also confirming that Mohamed Elyounoussi is out too (Evening Express), only Johnston’s inclusion could halt that.

The whole reason for Forrest having to move out onto the left is the fact we don’t have a reliable winger to play in that position outside of Mo and Mikey. But if Johnston is available to face Rangers, that allows Forrest and Christie to play in their natural positions.

Of course, what this would likely mean is that Olivier Ntcham would be reduced to the bench. Scott Brown and Callum McGregor will surely start the match on Sunday, so the Frenchman would have to deal with a reserve spot.

Neil Lennon will look to go 3-0 up against Gerrard in head-to-head battles this season (Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

There’s no denying we look more of a threat with Christie and Forrest in their natural positions. We also look more of a threat with Johnston on the pitch, so should we really be taking any risks against Rangers?

In any case, it’s just great to see Johnston back in contention. He’s ready to be unleashed if Lenny feels necessary over the next few days. That’s positive news for all of us.