Pat Bonner shares what James McCarthy has told him about Celtic fitness

By John McGinley

September 16, 2021

BBC Radio Scotland pundit Pat Bonner spoke to Celtic midfielder James McCarthy at the weekend and shared an update on his fitness problems in the early stages of this season.

Depite making a couple of early substitute appearances, the Republic of Ireland international missed the first three matches of the Scottish Premiership campaign, only returning to action for 12 minutes off the bench against Ross County at the weekend.

The fact he was on the bench against Real Betis again tonight surprised James McFadden, but Bonner provided some personal insight.

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Speaking on BBC Sportsound tonight [17:40], the former goalkeeper said: “He’s not fit though. I spoke to James at the weekend. He’s recovering. He’s had Covid and obviously his fitness isn’t up to standard, so I think that’s probably why he isn’t in the team.

“He told me he was out for 16 days, that’s a long time to be out, and he hasn’t been able to train or anything.”

Promisingly, the midfielder got half an hour under his belt in Spain, which should do him the world of good in attempting to reach peak match fitness.

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We could even see him make his first start at the weekend away to Livingston if Callum McGregor is still absent.

Defensive midfielder Ismaila Soro wasn’t particularly impressive tonight and found his performance hamstrung by an early yellow card.

McCarthy could add a bit of discipline into a midfield that looks like it badly needs it, especially off the ball.

The Irish star still has plenty of time at Celtic and we can’t rush to early judgments, especially given he has had Covid issues, but it’d be great to see him at least in a position to compete for starting places as soon as possible.

In other news, Chris Sutton delivers instant verdict on Celtic defeat vs Betis; picks one player out.