Karamoko Dembele’s chances of a debut this weekend have risen after it was reported he could make the squad to face Hearts.
According to the Scottish Sun, the 16-year-old is in line to be called up by Neil Lennon. Apparently, Dembele has been pulled from the England under-17s squad to prepare for Sunday’s game against Hearts.
The European Championships in Ireland are a big deal for the under-17s. So being pulled from that just to prepare for Hearts could signal a top-team appearance. Now would also be the right time to call him up to the squad too given there’s nothing left to play for.
The Sun believes that Dembele could have a place on the bench this weekend. Any chances of a start still look extremely unlikely.
Celtic have given youth a chance on their bench this season. The likes of Armstrong Oko-Flex was given his opportunity to experience the first-team life back in February. Mikey Johnston, meanwhile, has made 21 appearances for the first-team this term. Ewan Henderson was also given a flurry of outings between January and February.
But Dembele’s potential squad debut will be a big boost for him. He’s been plying his trade with the reserves over the last three months. He also featured in the recent cup finals at youth level against Rangers.
This shouldn’t mean he gets on the park
One notable aspect of Dembele these days is that he still has a lot of growing up and bulking up to do. Giving him actual game-time against Hearts could be dangerous given the Jambos’ physical style of play.
The last thing Celtic need is for young Dembele to get crunched by Christophe Berra or John Souttar. Nobody will be going easy on him just because he’s 16.
But the experience of being involved in a first-team squad should be more than enough for him to take on and continue his development with.
It will also be interesting to see if Lennon gives any of the other youngsters a shot on the bench this Sunday. The likes of Oko-Flex, Henderson, and Kerr McInroy, to name a few, have had outstanding campaigns with the development team.
We really should be expecting to see more of them in the coming months and years ahead. But as for Dembele, this is a massive boost for his personal career if he gets a spot on the bench.