Ross County manager John Hughes has revealed that it was former Celtic man John Collins who alerted him to the quality of Leo Hjelde.
The Norwegian youngster is currently spending the season on loan in Dingwall. It’s his first spell in senior football, and he’s certainly made an impressive start after racking up six appeaances.
Meanwhile, John Collins has been putting his name forward for the Director of Football role at Celtic. Speaking to BBC Scotland, he confirmed that it’s a role that would interest him. And it’s clear he’s extremely aware of the playing squad both at senior and youth level.
For it was Collins who informed Hughes’ of Hjelde’s readiness to step into the senior ranks.
As quoted by the Glasgow Times, Hughes said: “It was John who said to me about young Leo Hjelde. He said that I should take him, because we would be getting a man.
“He thinks that Leo should be ready for Celtic’s first-team if he gets that four or five months of men’s football. One thing I will tell you about the young kid, wow, what a talented footballer he is. He’s unbelievable, and he’s only 17.
“That’s what I mean about John, he knows everything that is going on at Celtic. He knows every young kid.”
John Collins made a fine call in informing Hughes about Celtic starlet Hjelde
It’s early stages but it looks as though Hughes has made a fine call regarding Hjelde’s immediate future. The experience he’ll be getting with Ross County will be worth more than training with the development squad at Lennoxtown.
Only by playing senior minutes will these young Celtic academy players develop. And that’s even more important for a club like ourselves considering the standards players must reach if they want to be here for the long-term.
Hjelde has now got people talking about him and at a time when we’re struggling for centre-backs. Kris Ajer looks set to depart in the summer whilst Shane Duffy won’t be back. Chris Jullien is out for months whilst there are no guarantees Nir Bitton stays fit either. There could be an opportunity there for Hjelde in pre-season.
Of course, at only 17, he’s in his very early stages. The last thing Celtic will want to do is rush him into the senior side and watch him be eaten alive by the pressure. That’s perhaps even more pertinent when you’re dealing with young foreign players too.
As for Collins, his interest in the Director of Football role has been noted. 67HailHail writer Euan Davidson discussed how he could be of real benefit to the players’ fitness levels. But this is a gig candidates will be queuing the length of London Road for.
All discussion on the direction Celtic go from here is pure speculation. Nobody knows where we’re headed next, and there are no guarantees that Dermot Desmond does yet either. But in terms of Collins’ view on Hjelde? It looks like he got that one spot on.