Damien Duff reveals "four or five" youngsters have trained with Celtic first-team today

By David Walton

February 28, 2019

New Celtic first-team coach Damien Duff has revealed that “four or five” players from the youth squad have trained with the Celtic first-team today.

The Irishman, who has been promoted as part of Celtic’s recent managerial shake-up, has been delighted with the youngsters’ progression recently.

Before his controversial departure, Brendan Rodgers made a commitment to blooding in youth. In the last two matches, we’ve seen Ewan Henderson break through and provide positive performances.

And Duff has revealed that the youth players have been swarming the first-team training session today. Speaking to Celtic TV on their official platforms, the Irishman touched on youth development.

“What I’ve enjoyed up until now is improving young players. I feel I’m good at it, so I guess I’ll miss that side of it, but I’ll still be keeping an eye on them and helping them whenever I can.

“There were four or five of them training with the first team after the Hearts game. That’s what the club’s built on, bringing youth through so nothing’s going to change.

“There’s a bit of me that’s sad to see the back of the reserves for now. I felt like they were starting to really understand me and the way I work. The game against the Kilmarnock reserves is the best they’ve been, and for 70-80 minutes they were brilliant.”

Commitment to youth persists regardless of Rodgers’ departure

It’s great to hear that Neil Lennon’s commitment to youth is following on from Rodgers’. Lennon is, after all, the man who gave James Forrest his first-team debut.

Ewan Henderson has featured in Celtic’s last two matches (Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

The likes of Anthony Ralston, Callum McGregor, Mikey Johnston, and Forrest have all come through the youth academy. In addition to that, other young talents such as Karamoko Dembele and Barry Coffey have also been training with the first-team squad recently too.

Generally, supporters get excited when they see or hear about youngsters being involved in senior training. But for four or five to be training in the one session? That’s pretty unheard of, or certainly publicly anyway.

Duff didn’t reveal who the youth players involved today were. But, for now, it looks as though the new first-team coach is leaving his reserve post to take up a big job of his own.

But that unwavering commitment to youth development at Parkhead clearly won’t change just because of the managerial change.