Mikey Johnston’s display at Ibrox wasn’t anything to get excited about, but excitement should still be sky-high over him.
The youngster was given a golden opportunity to impress at Ibrox yesterday. The 2-0 defeat was a hammer blow for Celtic fans who hoped their side were about to put on a show and lay down a statement to their rivals.
But it didn’t look great from the start when Celtic were playing with Johnston and Oliver Burke down the flanks. Neither player got into the game, with Johnston especially anonymous before being hooked in the second-half.
It was clear Johnston was getting rewarded. He’s scored two sensational free-kicks in the last two reserve matches. Added to that, he was a standout against Rangers at Celtic Park in the Glasgow Cup final two weeks ago.
But it’s now a key time in Johnston’s development, and Celtic need to make a move. Yesterday proved once and for all that the left-winger isn’t quite ready for the first-team.
The problem for Celtic is that they don’t have anything lined up for the reserves next season. The Hoops want to leave the Reserve League, but no alternatives have been announced as of yet. And that’s not something Johnston can hang his hat on. Instead, he has to find first-team football consistently at another club.
A loan is a must at this stage
That’s surely the next step then – a loan deal. Johnston isn’t good enough for the Celtic first-team, but is too good for the Celtic reserves.
He’s made an impressive 21 appearances this season. He’ll get his Premiership winners medal next week, and has even managed three goals in those outings too.
So he has plenty of first-team experience to his name does Johnston. Would we have expected more from those appearances? Perhaps, but his raw talent is second to none in the Celtic academy. It’s now about developing him into a senior player.
The likes of Ryan Christie, Callum McGregor, and Kristoffer Ajer are all fine examples of this. All three men went to other Premiership clubs to prove their worth and continue growing at senior level.
That simply has to now be on the agenda for Celtic regarding Johnston. His raw talent is incredible, and not nurturing that correctly would be criminal.
Hopefully, this summer is a big one for Johnston. The next step Celtic take on him will be a huge one.