Mikey Johnston’s future has some clarity now, after Brendan Rodgers stated he’s going nowhere this month.
It’s been a breakthrough campaign for the Lennoxtown graduate. Making 13 appearances, he’s notched three goals and looked a lively customer down the left-side and up front. His versatility will also have impressed Rodgers, who trusted him enough to start at Ibrox on December 29th.
Yet, with the Hoops set to tool up in this window, his position at the club was under threat. Sure, Johnston is seen as a key part of Celtic in the long-run, but would chances be limited in the second half of the season?
Whether he features as much or not, it doesn’t matter to Rodgers. Speaking in the Scottish Sun, the Celtic manager has stated that the Scottish youngster is going nowhere.
“Mikey has done very well so he won’t be going out. If you look at the physicality of how we play you need to have that.
“His best position is from the left side. But like you saw from his goals, he has a natural instinct to score. He played as a striker as a kid.
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“If you are a centre-half and you’re playing against him it can be really hard. He can really hurt you.”
Analysing Johnston’s game-time post-January
There were certainly some impressive outings from Johnston before the end of the first-half of the season. His goals against Dundee were mightily impressive, as was his stunner at home to Motherwell.
You still have to see Johnston as a left-winger, however. It’s his best hope of getting some more minutes with Celtic looking to recruit several forwards before the end of January.
Scott Sinclair has been misfiring on a consistent basis for nearly a year-and-a-half now. With no natural left-sided player truly ready to come in and fight him for the jersey, Johnston remains the prime candidate.
Many expect Oliver Burke to be the man to come in and keep Sinclair on his toes. The £15million-rated West Brom man, however, is more likely to provide cover for James Forrest down the right side.
Unless Rodgers seriously splashes the cash on a top-drawer left-winger, which is highly unlikely, Johnston can easily bag himself at least 10 more outings this season.
The Celtic manager is keen to let the youngster flourish in Glasgow, and isn’t prepared to let him slip to another club for six months at the moment.
He’s certainly been given the backing, but now it’s over to Johnston to show why he deserves it.