Celtic youngster Jonathan Afolabi has been given a promising appraisal by loan club boss James McPake.

Republic of Ireland youngster Afolabi has started his Dundee career in fine form as he spends the season at Dens Park. After an individually positive debut at Tynecastle despite a heavy defeat, the striker nabbed his first competitive goal for the club in a 1-0 win over Morton on Saturday.

It was a big weekend for Afolabi, who managed to score his first competitive goal since a March strike for Dunfermline against Queen of the South. In what’s perhaps the biggest season of his young career so far, getting the goal will be a big weight off of his mind.

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And he’s been heralded further by Dundee boss McPake, who couldn’t help but praise his overall performance against Morton.

As quoted by Not the Old Firm, McPake said: “Afolabi is a handful and technically very good. It was a really good finish, he’s got a great left foot.

“Again he’s behind where we’d want him to be, him and Danny Mullen. Afolabi will get us goals but his all-round play was really good and I’m delighted.”

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Comments like these will please Neil Lennon

If we’re being honest about the big picture, Afolabi has one of the hardest jobs at Celtic. Breaking into the strike-force at Parkhead is as brutal a challenge as it’s been in quite some time.

As things stand, Afolabi is looking ahead of him and seeing Odsonne Edouard, Leigh Griffiths, Albian Ajeti, and Patryk Klimala operating at a high level. All four players have made an impression this season, albeit Edouard has been off-form for most of it.

But even so, Afolabi has to try and find a way to make Lennon notice him. A goal for Dundee will hardly have the Celtic manager looking to recall him and throw him in for Sunday’s Scottish Cup semi-final against Aberdeen. But it’s a start, and it’s important that Afolabi keeps putting these building blocks in place.

Jonathan Afolabi is one of Celtic's long-term projects

Jonathan Afolabi is one of Celtic’s long-term projects (Photo By Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Being highlighted by McPake and bringing himself positive press is exactly what he should be looking at as his main goal this season. That’s the best way to be given a shot by Lennon next season. That and perhaps promotion of course.

It’s going to be a long road for Afolabi to make it at Celtic, and his winner vs Morton is nothing but a drop in the ocean when you look at the bigger picture. But it’s an important step for him to make, and it should have him a lot more relaxed than he may have been in the opening games of the season.

So well done Jonathan. The road to Parkhead stardom is a long one, but he’s hitting the right notes so far.

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