Celtic youngster Jonathan Afolabi has had nothing handed to him.
Spending the season on loan at Dundee, the promotion-chasing Taysiders have recruited well. A Championship side featuring Charlie Adam and Jason Cummings is always going to cause problems at that level. The talent as James McPake’s disposal has meant that the Celtic loanee hasn’t been a perennial starter, and has had to work hard for his chances in the second tier.
Afolabi feels that the experience has helped him massively. With Celtic potentially losing 3 strikers in the summer, the Irish youth international will surely be on the Bhoys’ radar. While he’s probably not quite ready to make a huge first-team impact in the Hoops yet, the 21-year-old has impressed.
Speaking at a press conference this morning, Afolabi told journalists [NTOF]:
“If I’m able to just keep doing what I’m doing and showing that I should be starting or playing, then hopefully I just get the minutes and game-time that I need.
“[Promotion] on a personal level, that’d be great. I couldn’t ask for anything more from a loan. It’d be a big achievement, something I’d be able to look back on.
“[Celtic have] stayed in contact. Just speaking about the way I’m getting on… it’s been very good, I’ve loved the experience.
“When I speak to [Celtic] it’s more or less about me. They let me know when I’m doing well, and when there’s an aspect I can improve on. Hopefully I can go back on a good note.”
Celtic youngster Jonathan Afolabi: determined to make an impact
“It’s been great. I’d love to be able to top it off with promotion, obviously. Personally, it’s been a great experience. I’ve definitely improved. As a young player, you should want to get to very top. That’s where I’d like to go. [I want to see] if I can push myself to get to the levels that Charlie [Adam] and Graeme Dorrans have, that’d be a great career.
“I have to take it step by step and show people why I should be there in the first place.”
If Afolabi wants a career like Adam or Dorrans, the hard work continues in earnest. While, from a Celtic perspective, it might be a laugh to consider either ex-Gers man aspirational, both have played in the Premier League and at senior international level. Objectively, it’s a good thing to hear from one of our youngsters.
Partyk Klimala, Odsonne Edouard and Leigh Griffiths all seem likely to depart this summer. This leaves Afolabi with a very clear opportunity. Impress in pre-season under a new manager, and there may just be competitive minutes available.