Mikey Johnston should be in line to start for Celtic vs Rangers

By David Walton

December 29, 2019

Supporters were given a timely boost ahead of today’s Celtic vs Rangers clash as Mikey Johnston put pen to paper on a new five-year contract with the club.

Celtic announced the news yesterday, with Johnston stating that it was a “great present” to have this Christmas. That was certainly the case for the supporters too, with many delighted to see the youngster sign up at Parkhead for the long-term.

Mikey Johnston has been a valuable contributor to Celtic this season (Paul Ursachi/MB Media/Getty Images)

No wonder either. Johnston has been hugely influential when he’s been fit this season. Six goals and five assists in 17 appearances this season reads extremely well for him (Transfermarkt). That’s come despite the fact he was injured for nearly three months too.

And fresh after signing his deal, Johnston should be given the chance to have a real go at Rangers today from the start.

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The Johnston effect was clear to see at Hampden

Celtic badly missed Johnston in the Betfred Cup final. With Mohamed Elyounoussi starting despite not being anywhere near 100% fit, it took a real toll on our ability to get out. Only after Mikey came on for the second-half did we start having a threat in the final third.

Johnston (centre) made a positive effect at Hampden (Michael Steele/Getty Images)

He missed a glorious one-v-one in the final too after being slipped in by Odsonne Edouard. However, that was also a sign of how much his pace can trouble Rangers. There wasn’t a defender anywhere near catching him as he ran in on Allan McGregor’s goal.

Johnston also bagged a vital assist at Ibrox in the opening derby goal of the season back in September. He’s combined well with Edouard in this fixture so far this campaign, and deserves his spot in the team today.

Of course, it also allows Lennon to drop this recent idea of forcing Olivier Ntcham into the side. James Forrest has had to move over to the left recently, with Ryan Christie moving from his number 10 position over to the right. It minimises the effect of both players. Johnston’s inclusion down the left would halt that.

Johnston has recently returned from injury (Paul Ursachi/MB Media/Getty Images)

Not to mention the fact that, after yesterday, the youngster will be buoyed. How better to follow up a new contract with a start against Rangers the next day? If anyone would be itching to impress, it would be Johnston.

There are a variety of reasons as to why Mikey would be best suited to today. Allowing players to play in their natural positions combined with his recent performances in this fixture will hopefully swing it his way. However, the buzz of a new contract only adds to those reasons.