Johnston's return is huge for Celtic; must immediately return to the A squad

By David Walton

December 7, 2020

Celtic were given a massive boost this afternoon thanks to the return of mercurial winger Mikey Johnston for the development side.

Indeed, the Celtic Colts secured a superb 3-0 win over Rangers in the Glasgow Cup this afternoon. It’s a fan-pleasing result regardless of what age group it’s at, but this was a day that could provide the first-team with a boost.

Johnston may not have gotten on the scoresheet this afternoon, but he did manage 45 minutes in what will have been a tenacious contest. The fact he came through it well is massive for Celtic.

And this isn’t just because Johnston is another body to add to the squad or because he was a key part of the team that started last season so well. It’s absolutely key because this Celtic team is currently lacking pace, directness, and a top-quality left-winger.

Neil Lennon has often been playing without width in his first-team this season due to the lack of options available at his disposal. Mohamed Elyounoussi has recently been suffering with a knock and only returned for the final 10 minutes against St Johnstone yesterday.

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Yet, despite the fact Moi has 11 goals this season, he still lacks natural pace. That’s what Johnston brings, and with James Forrest still injured, he’s the only available winger who does.

Johnston can give Celtic much-needed pace

One of Celtic’s biggest criticisms of recent weeks has been our inability to move the ball with pace. Everything has been too pedestrian with a real lack of movement in and around the penalty area.

Johnston can help break that mould by creating space for others with his direct runs. He really is such a valuable asset for Celtic to have, and bagged 12 direct goal contributions despite only being fit for half of the season (Transfermarkt).

Celtic star Mikey Johnston takes a shot at goal (JONAS EKSTROMER/AFP via Getty Images)

Today’s game for the development side showed that he’s fit enough to feature, albeit perhaps not for 90-minute outings. But if he can play in the Glasgow Cup in a derby game he can easily start making some cameos for Celtic in the A squad.

There will be a temptation perhaps to keep him with the colts until he builds up his fitness levels, but we don’t have that luxury. Don’t tell me Johnston can’t be an option from the bench when we’re struggling for creativity – which has been often in recent weeks. Remember, we’ve only scored one goal in 180 minutes against Ross County and St Johnstone at home.

Let’s see how quickly the manager takes to bring him back up. But the truth is we need him immediately. This could be a big day for us.

In other news, we discuss the hard-hitting facts about Neil Lennon’s season as we compare it to Tony Mowbray’s campaign.