One of the few things for Celtic fans to enjoy in the last few months has been seeing Academy players getting game time.
Ewan Otoo is just one of many who were shipped out by Celtic on a temporary basis. Joining Clyde, it was a genuine chance to see the young defender in action. Having signed a new contract in January [Celtic FC], there was clearly enough about the youngster’s game to deserve more time at the club.
So, when he joined eccentric boss Danny Lennon at Clyde, it was reason for excitement. Primarily playing at left-back for the Bully Wee, Otoo was vital last night. Lennon’s side avoided the drama of relegation play-offs. Otoo started as Clyde overcame East Fife, and in doing so, ensured a third successive year in League One [Clyde FC].
Honestly, there was limited information on the former Eastwood Boys Club player. We weren’t entirely sure of his best position, given that he’d played at centre-back and in midfield. Utilised as a left-back, though, he’s shown flashes of excellence, setting up goals and driving forward from the left flank.
There’s a realistic scenario in which Adam Montgomery and Ewan Otoo battle for a full-back slot in the first team over the next few years. Clearly, the Tierney influence has rubbed off. Montgomery began as a striker before converting to left-back. Equally, Otoo has the same attacking impetus.
Celtic youngsters, like Otoo at Clyde, are making a real impact in the SPFL
Between Otoo, Henderson, McInroy, Connell and Hjelde, Celtic Academy talents are making a real impact. Luca Connell has been masterful at Queen’s Park, helping the Spiders to promotion from League Two. Meanwhile, Henderson and McInroy are at Dunfermline, and impressing manager Stevie Crawford.
Leo Hjelde is earning comparisons to Virgil van Dijk with Ross County, while Otoo is helping a historic club maintain their league status. Whether all these players have a future at Celtic, they’re making important strides in their development.
It’s entirely reasonable to worry about the Bhoys’ recent history in developing young players. At least now we’re seeing tangible evidence of these players getting better, playing important matches and gaining valuable experience.
The rebuild ahead of Celtic is enormous. However, the next manager will know there’s an emerging crop of talent who have received top coaching.
That can’t be a bad thing.