Three exciting Celtic youngsters spotted in training prior to Clyde; too risky to feature?

By John McGinley

February 7, 2020

Celtic youngsters Barry Coffey, Armstrong Oko-Flex and Ewan Henderson featured in first-team training this week alongside established regulars in Neil Lennon’s squad, The Daily Record report.

The paper say Thursday’s training session at Lennoxtown was dominated by fringe players after Wednesday night’s efforts against Motherwell, giving some younger players a chance to impress ahead of a match against lower-league opposition.

Coffey and Oko-Flex were pictured alongside Henderson, who is cup-tied for the occasion after playing for Ross County in the last round.

The duo are Republic of Ireland youth internationals and regularly appear for the Reserves and development sides at the Hoops.

Midfielder Coffey, aged 18, helped his country into the U19 Euros semi-final last summer, scoring a crucial goal against Czech Republic on the way.

Winger Oko-Flex, still just 17, has registered two assists in his last three matches for the Irish U19 side and was included on the bench by both Brendan Rodgers and Lennon last season against Kilmarnock and Hearts.

Neither have made their competitive debut for the club yet.

Henderson, 19, is well known to supporters having made a lively first-team breakthrough last term.

Celtic youngster Armstrong Oko-Flex / (Photo by Vagelis Georgariou/Action Plus via Getty Images)

Will Lennon turn to youth on Sunday?

This weekend’s cup tie against a League One side could be seen as an opportunity for the manager to rest plenty of his regulars and allow some young players and fringe first-teamers to make their mark in an important fixture.

Something tells me though that Lennon is a bit more pragmatic than that and will end up naming a pretty strong and experienced eleven.

One or two may be rested to give new signings Ismaila Soro and Patryk Klimala a go, but beyond that, I’m expecting a pretty familiar eleven with perhaps youngsters finding their way to the bench.

The manager is unlikely to have forgotten the 2006 shock against Clyde in the same competition.

Celtic face Clyde in 2006 / (Photo by GLENN CAMPBELL/AFP via Getty Images)

He was captain that day and understands just how quickly things can unravel against super-motivated lower-league opposition.

The likes of Coffey and Oko-Flex, despite their training inclusion, may have to wait their turn for first-team inclusion, with any fixtures in the tail-end of the season that have little meaning a more likely time to see them in action.

Lennon though has thrown a couple of curveballs this season already with the selections of Jeremie Frimpong and Stephen Welsh, so who knows what’s in store?