Report: Celtic hope James McCarthy will be fit for AZ Alkmaar match

By David Walton

August 22, 2021

Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou is hoping that James McCarthy will be fit in time for Thursday night’s clash against AZ Alkmaar, according to the Sunday Mail [print edition, 22/08, page 70].

McCarthy was a surprising omission from the Hoops side that destroyed St Mirren 6-0 yesterday. He wasn’t part of the bench either, which was surprising given his cameo against AZ last week.

There was even more bemusement when the player wasn’t mentioned by Postecoglou in his pre-match interview. But it’s fair to say his absence didn’t go unnoticed.

And whilst it hasn’t been reported as to why McCarthy was missing yesterday, Postecoglou is said by the Sunday Mail to be hopeful of a return for his summer signing in Holland this week.

The Republic of Ireland international made his debut in a 15-minute cameo vs Hearts last week. He so far has two Celtic appearances to his name.

Celtic need James McCarthy fit for AZ Alkmaar clash; fresh legs essential

It’s difficult to gauge just how influential McCarthy can be for this Celtic side. Given we’ve seen very little of him so far, it’s clear he’s still integrating himself into the squad.

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However, at the same time, we know his quality when he’s fully fit. He’s an experienced ball-carrier with plenty of knowledge of playing at the highest level. He won’t be fazed and certainly won’t be daunted by the job that needs done in the Netherlands.

Celtic need as many fresh legs as possible available for this week’s game. There’s going to be a lot of energy expended against Alkmaar. We can expect the Dutch side to come at us from the start. Energy and purpose is essential for the full 90 minutes. McCarthy brings that.

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Not to mention the fact we have a massive Glasgow derby on Sunday. Postecoglou would love the flexibility to make some changes if necessary. We can’t expect the same XI that starts on Thursday to do the same at Ibrox. It’s highly unlikely.

So fingers crossed McCarthy can get himself fully fit. Expecting a top display from him in the upcoming games is a touch unreasonable given he’s still building up his fitness levels. But he would still be a highly useful tool to have.

Regardless, we’re in for a tough night against AZ. We need as much experience available as we can get our hands-on.

In other news, Michael Stewart sings Celtic praises on Sportscene after St Mirren demolition