Celtic fans could be given an insight into how fit Mikey Johnston is today when Scotland under-21s host Lithuania.
Johnston has been called up to Scot Gemmill’s young squad for important Euro 2021 qualifiers against Lithuania and Czech Republic respectively. The latter fixture doesn’t take place until Monday. But as for the Lithuanians? That match kicks-off at quarter past five this afternoon.
Scot Gemmill has selected his Scotland under-21 squad for next month’s games against Lithuania and Czech Republic. pic.twitter.com/eMIBm9rPdY
— Superscoreboard (@ClydeSSB) September 23, 2019
Johnston was injured for the first two Euro under-21 qualification matches against San Marino and Croatia respectively. Scotland managed to rack up six points out of six, however.
The winger picked up an injury after Celtic defeated Rangers 2-0 at Ibrox last month. Since then, he hasn’t been in matchday squads as he continues to recover from his knock.
There has been some signs of life in recent weeks, however. Johnston is already back in training, and is clearly close to a return (Evening Times). Added to that, he wouldn’t have been called up for these upcoming international matches if he wasn’t close to being ready.
You would’ve imagined, with the traveling involved, that Neil Lennon would’ve advised him to stay at home if there was any concern.
If Johnston starts, we’re in business
All eyes will be on the team line-up this afternoon around an hour before kick-off. A return to the Scotland under-21 starting XI would be a big boost for Johnston and Celtic fans too.
There’s no denying we’ve missed his creativity in recent weeks. He’s managed three goals and four assists in his 10 appearances so far. He’s a key member of Lenny’s squad, and the sooner he returns, the better.
Of course, if he doesn’t start and doesn’t come on from the bench, he could just be getting saved for the trip to the Czech Republic. That looks the more difficult of the two matches. But it’s a huge boost that he’s been called up in the first place, and it’s a good sign in terms of his fitness.
When he returns to the Celtic squad, he has a big battle on his hands of course with Mohamed Elyounoussi. The Norwegian is looking the part in Johnston’s absence. Dropping him out of the blue could be a tough decision for Lenny to make.
But we have to look at the positives here. Johnston is clearly close to a return. When he does, we’re going to have one heck of a left side too. Competition is key, and having Johnston back will allow us to rotate quality with quality.
Hopefully, he makes an appearance against Lithuania today to get him some game-time before his Celtic return. Having not played for over a month, he could certainly use it.