Celtic youngster Cameron Harper has eyes on first-team debut this season

By David Walton

October 17, 2019

Celtic youngster Cameron Harper has stated that he’s eyeing a first-team debut this season.

The lofty ambition comes just weeks after he was promoted from the under-18s to the reserve squad. Harper was signed by the Celtic Academy a little over a year ago from California.

It was in Florida during a USA under-16s game that his dad helped organise a trial for him at Lennoxtown. After a couple of trial spells, the deal was confirmed, and he ended up winning the Glasgow Cup and also played and scored at Hampden in the Youth Cup final.

Cameron Harper scored at Hampden in the Youth Cup final last season (Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Harper was also talking to the Celtic View in an exclusive interview this week (Volume 55, Issue 15, Pages 32 + 33). It was there he admitted that he has his eyes on a first-team spot this season.

“Everyone’s target in the reserves is to make their first-team debut. I know I need to be patient and I feel like if I keep working hard and playing well then the chances will come.

“It’s been good so far (with the reserves). Pre-season was good and the playing time has helped me get used to playing against older guys. We played Albion Rovers recently and they were fully-grown men. That was one of the first times I’ve played against professional senior players, and it was good to get a feel for it.

“In California, I wasn’t with a professional MLS team, whereas here I’m with a massive club and there’s a lot more pressure. Here you have to perform every day and that’s helping make me a better player.”

Cameron Harper won’t be the only player with such lofty goals

First-team chances aren’t just given out. They go to the best of the best in the academy. That was proven when Karamoko Dembele, such a widely talked about talent, made his debut at 16 towards the end of last season.

Karamoko Dembele proved that the opportunities are there for those who are good enough (Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Harper is quite right to have that goal. It may seem a tad over-ambitious given he’s only just joined the reserves, but so had Karamoko. Harper has settled in well and is clearly impressing enough given his summer promotion from the under-18s.

The fact he’s more of a forward makes life a tad more difficult for him. We have enough of those trying to break into the squad as it is. Just look at how difficult Jack Aitchison found it to break through consistently.

Harper, however, has started his youth career well at Parkhead. Two cup finals equal a tremendous opening to his time here. Considering he was signed from little-known Californian outfit Pateadores, it’s been a whirlwind year for him.

Stephen McManus has been working with Harper since he joined (Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Images)

He’s just one of a number of academy hopefuls who will be keen to make their debuts this season. The likes of Armstrong Oko-Flex, Lee O’Connor, and Jonathan Afolabi will also be keen to make an impact.

It only gows to express the talent Celtic have coming out of their youth ranks. It all bodes extremely well for the long-term.