Neil Lennon should have no fear in handing Karamoko Dembele a first start for Celtic on Sunday. There’s a good chance the youngster will make his debut for the Hoops against Hearts after his manager’s comments in midweek.
The game has little riding on it and would offer Dembele the perfect chance to take the limelight. He’s most likely to come off the bench if he’s playing but could Lennon even hand him an incredible start?
The Aitchison example
Strangely enough, Dembele wouldn’t be Celtic’s youngest appearance holder. Nor would he be the club’s youngest ever goalscorer. Jack Aitchison holds those titles after an incredible debut on the final day of the 2015/2016 season.
The forward came on for his first Celtic appearance at the tender age of 16 years and 71 days, and scored with his first touch in the 7-0 win over Motherwell.
Dembele will be 87 days into his 17th year by the time the game gets underway at Celtic Park so maybe he’s not quite as young as we think.
Sunday’s opposition may also contain a player who Dembele could look to for inspiration. Harry Cochrane was 16 years young when he netted the first goal of the Jambos’ 4-0 win over Celtic in 2017. The result ended our remarkable 69 game unbeaten domestic run – with the first game of that run being the one Aitchison scored in.
Maybe Celtic can start a new unbeaten run tomorrow. Maybe a new 16 year-old is going to take centre stage.