International joy for 'brave' Celtic loanee Mikey Johnston

By John McGinley

March 17, 2023

Celtic winger Mikey Johnston has officially been given his first international call-up with the Republic of Ireland national team, after declaring for them earlier this month.

Stephen Kenny has named the loanee, currently playing in Portugal, as part of his squad to face Latvia and France later this month. Johnston had previously earned under-21 honours with Scotland but recently spoke of his desire to represent Ireland.

Kenny has praised the Vitoria de Guimaraes man in a media conference, sharing that he has been on the radar of the FAI for quite a long time now.

Photo by Gualter Fatia/Getty Images

The Ireland boss said: “He broke on the scene very quickly at Celtic and played in four cup finals before he was 22. But he had been out injured for a year and it was a tough one for a young player to lose his rhythm like that.

“It affects your career and he’s obviously seen a lot of players come in and bypass him at Celtic because they signed a lot of players when he was injured. It was a brave step to go to Portugal, it’s a tough league with a lot of good teams in it.

“He’s played 21 games this season between starts and off the bench. He has different characteristics that will add to the squad. We mustn’t expect a major impact from him in this camp but it’s a good introduction for him.

“He has a good final pass, a weighted pass. He is a right-footed dribbler, off the left. We are good at centre-backs and goalkeepers and we have got some centre-forwards coming through now, but wingers have been in short supply. He is happy playing on the inside or the left flank.”

If Johnston goes on to win a full cap then it’ll be the latest positive development for him this season, since choosing to leave Celtic to get first-team football elsewhere.

The winger has managed to stay injury-free in Portugal, which is a big improvement on recent years. He remains highly thought of at Celtic, with the player even extending his contract before heading off on loan.

Hopefully, this is the kind of event that just fills him with more confidence to go on and forge a fine career for himself. There’s even a chance he can force his way into Ange Postecoglou’s plans this summer.

In other news, Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou clears up Greg Taylor and Cameron Carter-Vickers puzzlers.