Mikey Johnston has been getting continuous game-time recently, but it’s time to step it up a gear.
The natural left-winger started in the 3-0 win over Hamilton on Saturday. Yet, despite being given a huge opportunity, it was one of Johnston’s more quieter outings. This came after another brief quiet cameo against Airdrie and a struggling performance against Rangers.
Johnston remains one of Celtic’s most valued academy prospects. He has the world at his feet, and has natural talent not seen since the likes of Aiden McGeady came through the system.
But, it’s fair to say his first-team chances looked a lot brighter several weeks ago. With Scott Sinclair struggling for form, Johnston was waiting to be given his chance. He fair took it in matches against Motherwell and Dundee when given the chance to play as a striker – scoring three goals.
But since then, the youngster has just tailed off a tad.
Sinclair’s form makes him the clear first-choice
Meanwhile, Sinclair has rattled home a seriously impressive seven goals in five games. He has finally rediscovered some form similar to when he was thriving as Scotland’s Player of the Year back in 2016/17.
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The Englishman’s form has shot him right into pole position down the left once more. Therefore, if Johnston wants to seriously represent a challenge to Sinclair, he could do with stepping it up a tad himself in his occasional appearance.
So far, the academy graduate has made a total of 15 Hoops appearances. That’s a breakthrough year for Johnston, and he’s shown remarkable footwork and skill in the majority of those opportunities.
But with Celtic’s recruitment down the flanks – Oliver Burke and the just-about-signed Mariyan Shved being able to play in his position, competition is getting greater. The likes of Johnston need to start standing out from the pack, and only impressive performances will do that.
His future at Celtic will remain long-term. One of these days, he’s going to become an absolute top star at Parkhead. But in order for that day to become soon, Johnston has to up the tempo a tad in the coming weeks with his left-wing rival doing similar.