Northern Ireland legend Keith Gillespie praises Celtic youngster Ben Wylie

By Hamish Carton

January 9, 2020

Northern Ireland legend Keith Gillespie has heaped the praise on “brilliant” Celtic youngster Ben Wylie.

We told you yesterday how teenage midfielder Wylie had penned an extension that will keep him at Celtic Park until 2022. The youngster is yet to be included in a first-team squad by Neil Lennon but has apparently performed to a good level in the club’s academy.

Many Hoops fans may not be totally familiar with the former Linfield youngster but former English Premier League man Gillespie clearly is. The 86-time Northern Ireland cap represents the youngster and knows all about his qualities

(Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

“Ben went over to Celtic as a 16-year-old in 2018 and he has been brilliant,” Gillespie told Belfast Live. “He is still only 17-and-a-half, and won’t be 18 until June. He is still a kid but his temperament and attitude is brilliant.

“We obviously keep a close eye on Ben’s progress and speak to Celtic regularly, and the noise coming out of the club has been very positive.

“I think when a club like Celtic offers you a new contract, then you are doing things right. Ben was captain of their Under 18s and has progressed to the Under 20s.

(Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images for DFB)

“Ben is a versatile midfielder. He has a great left foot and can distribute passes all over the pitch. He can play in the number 10 role, but Celtic have also played him in a more defensive midfield role. Nothing seems to faze him.”

Gillespie will be good for Wylie

One of the things that springs out from Gillespie’s quotes is young Wylie’s versatility. The importance of that in a midfielder nowadays cannot be lost and it is particularly pleasing to hear that the teenager is able to play at both ends of a midfield diamond.

While the average Hoops fan hasn’t had a chance to see Wylie in action yet, the fact the club were willing to dish out a new contract speaks volumes. Wylie is obviously impressing someone and that will soon feed through to the gaffer who is no stranger to giving youth a chance.

(Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

He’s already handed out a first-team appearance to Karamoko Dembele this term and the winger is even younger than Gillespie. That bodes well for the midfielder – especially if he’s got an experienced head like Gillespie guiding him through his playing career.