Time for clarification on Luca Connell next steps after Celtic sign Liam Shaw

By David Walton

March 11, 2021

With Celtic having secured the services of the exciting Liam Shaw, it’s time for some clarity on Luca Connell’s next steps towards becoming a Parkhead regular.

The Hoops and Sheffield Wednesday both announced the arrival of Shaw to Parkhead this week. Whilst there has been plenty of controversy surrounding that deal, another talking point has come out of it that, ironically, nobody is talking about.

As great as it is signing young talent, especially young English ones, we have to remember what we currently have in reserve.

When Shaw arrives, he’ll join a list of rivals itching to barge their way into the first-team ahead of him. Ismaila Soro has already made his mark and looks like the sure-fire replacement for Scott Brown. Scott Robertson and Kerr McInroy will return after productive loan spells in England and Scotland respectively.

And then there’s former Bolton prodigy Connell. One of Neil Lennon’s first signings in his second spell, this had real shades of the recent Shaw deal. The Ireland under-19 international had only played 12 times at senior level for Bolton. It looked like one for the long-term and still does to this day.

However, fast forward almost two years and Connell is no closer to Celtic first-team action than he was when he signed. That’s despite the fact he’s generally impressed when given a chance in pre-season. Going back to the 3-1 win against Hibs before the campaign began, the midfielder was a standout. He also bagged an assist with a superb ball over the top of the defence for Leigh Griffiths.

Luca Connell’s short-term future difficult to pinpoint

There have been opportunities to bring Connell into the fold. One of the main focuses this year was trying to find an emerging replacement for Brown. Connell plays in that very holding role that the current captain has bossed over the years.

Yet he hasn’t featured in a single minute of action all season. He did manage to make the bench in the two games post-Dubai when Celtic had their squad decimated. But did he feature for a second? Nope. He’s been left on the outside looking in.

In addition to that, teammates of his and potential positional rivals for next season have been sent out on loan for senior minutes. Connell hasn’t had that.

Luca Connell: in Celtic training / (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group via Getty Images)

That would be fine if he was getting opportunities at senior level. But as things stand, the former Bolton man appears to be nowhere near matchday squads despite regularly taking part in first-team training.

It makes you wonder why there was any real need for Shaw. Is he of a higher calibre than Connell? Is there something he can produce that Luca isn’t yet able to? Both men are 19 years of age, so both still have plenty of time to make an impact here.

But it would be nice to get some clarity on where Connell stands here. With a new manager set to come in, it’s a fresh opportunity for everyone, but after two years in the development team, it’s time Connell started to get some senior minutes.

In other news, a former AC Milan and Celtic midfielder has outlined his Parkhead managerial ambition.