Okay, so it was only five minutes, but Karamoko Dembele’s Celtic appearance against Hamilton may be the starting block towards solving a long-term Parkhead issue.
Dembele was a regular feature of pre-season for the Hoops. It was topped off with an appearance against Hibernian last Sunday in which he sparkled and nabbed a fine first goal for the club.
It wasn’t so much of a surprise seeing Dembele back on the Celtic bench for the 5-1 Sunday route either. You just get the feeling this is a big, big year for him. And fair play to him for having people saying when he’s only 17. I can’t even remember what I was doing at 17 – I don’t even think I want to actually.
But if you think having a big season is pressure for young Karamoko, then how about this – he has a massive chance now to solve our glaring right-wing issue.
James Forrest has been carrying the weight of expectation down that right-side for far too long. Jimmy isn’t easing up of course. He ended last season with another stunning total of 16 goals and 22 assists (Transfermarkt).
Time for Karamoko to turn up the heat?
But for too long we haven’t had a rival for Forrest. Knowing that a wonder-kid like Dembele is snapping at his heels, it could even boost James further.
Try to think hard about who we’ve had over the last decade that has seriously challenged the Scotland veteran. Patrick Roberts. There’s one. Keep trying. Yup, nobody has stepped up to the plate and made life a tad more competitive for our main man down the right side.
Dembele isn’t going to take Forrest’s place this season. We all understand that’s not the case. It’s too early for that and Forrest simply gives us too much to go dropping him. But for the games in which we could do with giving our star-man a rest, we need some reliable cover. Dembele is next in line for that opportunity. He’s certainly best placed for it.
Marian Shved was supposed to be that man of course. The Ukrainian, however, hasn’t been seen in a Celtic matchday squad since February. That was only one of three appearances last season too (Transfermarkt). In addition to that, Shved hasn’t been seen in pre-season squads either. His time here looks like being on a shoogly peg.
So much so that Dembele has now overtaken him in the pecking order, and the next step for him is to potentially get to double figures for first-team appearances this season. The position that’s most likely to come in is in Forrest’s right-wing position, regardless of his ability to play on either flank.
It’s time for young Karamoko to show us all why the likes of Borussia Dortmund and Arsenal have been linked with him in the past (Scottish Sun). Your time to shine is now son – go and solve what’s been a frustrating issue for us over the last 10 years.