Mikey Johnston’s Scotland career has yet to take off, but the player himself is hopeful he can catch the eye of manager Steve Clarke.
Johnston has only just returned from a terribly unfortunate injury. After a terrific individual display at Ibrox where he assisted Odsonne Edouard’s opener in a 2-0 win, Johnston then sat out for nearly four months.
Since then, Scotland have struggled for quality out on the left. Clarke has had to play James Forrest out of position due to a lack of options at left-mid. With Ryan Fraser pulling out of the squad last month, it could’ve been the perfect opportunity for Johnston to shine.
Fortunately, he’s bagged two goals in two games in a rip-roaring return to form. And as he responded to the media’s questions about his international hopes, Johnston delivered a promising statement. Speaking via Celtic TV, here’s what he had to say:
“Hopefully (potential Scotland call-up). I hope so. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. Hopefully I can get to that level. I’m just focusing on Celtic just now and trying to get back fit and get as many minutes as I can in the tank.
“He’s spoken to me (Lennon) and said I need to work hard and try to work my way back into the team. Hopefully, if I can get back in, I can stay there.”
Scotland call-up should be close
Outside of Fraser, there isn’t a left-winger that you could argue should be rivaling a fully-fit Johnston in the Scotland squad. The fact that Forrest has had to play in that position shows how lacking we’ve been in it in recent times.
Scotland has a mouth-watering playoff clash against Norway in March. A positive few months for Johnston should be more than enough to make Clarke’s cut. After all, if Johnston is performing for Celtic on a weekly basis as well as on the European stage, he can surely feature for Scotland.
Perhaps surprisingly, Johnston has never been called up to the Scotland squad in his career. His emergence over the last year or so hasn’t been enough to win himself a call. However, he’s taken his game to a different level, and his goals against both Rennes and Ross County showed the maturity he’s adapted to his game.
Johnston should also take solace from the fact that Fraser has yet to pull up trees for Scotland either. The Bournemouth man has just six caps and one goal to his name. But if you’re trying to remember a game where he stood out, you’ll do well to pluck one.
Of course, for Mikey, it’s all about rediscovering that early-season form. He was selected 10 times before his September injury, managing a fine three goals and four assists beforehand (Transfermarkt). If he can get back into his stride, anything is possible this season.
It’s baby steps for now of course. But come March, don’t be surprised if he’s suddenly impressing on the international stage too.