The Celtic youth players who can take Postecoglou by surprise tomorrow

By David Walton

June 23, 2021

When Ange Postecoglou takes Celtic training tomorrow, he’ll be assured with the quality he sees.

Given how bad we were last season, he has a right to hold some fear as to what he sees at Lennoxtown. However, there remains plenty of quality players at the football club. If he has any doubts about the quality of the current squad, there will be several players who put those fears to bed.

However, at the same time, there will be something that does indeed surprise him. When he first takes training with the Celtic squad, he’s going to notice a host of quality youth talents. And quality youth talents who have been badly mismanaged.

He’s going to notice players between 18-22 who have extreme potential but haven’t been given the proper opportunities to develop. Let me list just some who fall into that bracket:

Lee O’Connor. Luca Connell. Jonathan Afolabi. Euan Henderson. Karamoko Dembele. Conor Hazard. All players who have been plying their trade or have come through the academy and saw their careers stall.

The likes of O’Connor, Connell, and Afolabi are in the exact same stagnant position they were in when they signed in 2019. There’s been no progress and minimal development there. A trend that will undoubtedly concern Postecoglou.

Postecoglou will see plenty of youth talent when he takes first training session at Celtic

You then have the likes of Dembele, Henderson, and Hazard. These are talents who are too good for development football but again haven’t been given a fair run with the senior side. Some will debate whether the likes of Henderson and Hazard are good enough, but they undoubtedly have talent that hasn’t been managed well enough in the last several years.

It’s no wonder so many promising young talents have left the club in recent years. There’s no pathway from the academy to the first-team. That’s something Postecoglou will need to put in place.

The new manager has spoken about his enthusiasm for youth development. He clearly gets a kick out of giving youth players opportunities and making them staples of his squad if good enough.

What next for the likes of Luca Connell? (Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

When he comes in he’s going to be wowed by the talent we have in the academy. It’s going to be about finding the right development path for them.

No, not every youngster will be a Celtic success story. In fact the majority of them won’t be. But there are some who have impressed in the little time we’ve seen them and simply faded away.

Postecoglou will have enough on his mind sorting his senior squad out. But the amount of talent at Lennoxtown is going to give him a shock when he sees them up close. I just pray he’s going to be the man who finally manages to open up a pathway for them into the senior side.

In other news, Postecoglou’s arrival has cranked up the excitement levels amongst Celtic fans.