John Kennedy has explained why exciting Celtic talent Karamoko Dembele hasn’t been playing regularly, as he confirmed his plan to give him some minutes this afternoon.

Dembele impressed with a superb goal against St Johnstone in Wednesday night’s 4-0 rout at Celtic Park. It was a big moment for the 18-year-old, who netted his first goal in senior football. That’s despite the fact the outing was only his second appearance of the campaign.

It opened up a major question on just what Celtic have been doing with the right-wing situation. With James Forrest injured for much of the campaign, the club has been shoehorning players into the position who don’t play there regularly. Even though we had Dembele available, he wasn’t getting a look-in.

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And Kennedy has given an explanation as to why the England under-18 international hasn’t been playing consistently this season.

“He’ll certainly be in the squad”

As quoted by the Herald, the interim boss said: “He’ll certainly be in the squad for tomorrow’s game and, if we can give him more minutes, then we’ll certainly do that. He is young and he’s still slight so we have to look after him. We brought him on for 10 minutes at Pittodrie and he got a bit longer the other night, so if we can increase that again we’ll do it.

“You see some 16 and 17-year-olds who are already fully developed but Karamoko still has some growing to do on that basis. We see him on a daily basis and you have to remember that he hasn’y played much this season due to the Covid-19 restrictions. He probably hasn’t played a full game since the beginning of the season, really – or, at best, October with the reserve team.

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“As a result, physically he isn’t at the stage he would be in the course of a normal season, so we’ve had to nurture him back in, but we’ve seen improvements in him at training. He’s getting better and that’s why we’ve given him those opportunities in the last couple of weeks.”


John Kennedy excuse doesn’t wash, if Karamoko Dembele can play now, he could’ve been playing all season

You can see where Kennedy is coming from here. This idea that Dembele wasn’t physically ready to compete with Premiership defenders at the start of the season is a decent explanation.

However, comparing his performance on Wednesday to his pre-season outing against Hibs in July? There wasn’t any difference whatsoever. Dembele doesn’t appear to have improved all that much in strength. Instead, he’s a player that relies solely on his tricky feet to get away from his men.

There wasn’t so much of a change on Wednesday that would make us believe he shouldn’t have been in earlier. Especially given the injury situation at the football club.

Celtic Karamoko Demebele

Karamoko Dembele celebrates his first Celtic goal / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

After all, are we to believe that the time is suddenly spot on for Dembele to feature now? In the final two games of the season? That would be some coincidence. It’s clear that he should’ve been in a lot earlier, and Kennedy will likely know that.

Surely, if he’s ready to start being given more opportunities, this means that he’ll be a regular next season? At the very least, he should be in and around the squad and available as back-up to Forrest.

Wednesday night was yet further proof Karamoko is ready for this level. The only thing we have to bring ourselves to do now is to throw him in more often.

In other news, Kennedy has confirmed the behind-the-scenes work going into transfer plans for the new boss.

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