3 Celtic youngsters we'd love to see push Lennon's faltering stars for first-team places

By Euan Davidson

November 28, 2020

Celtic’s illustrious history is filled with talent from the academy making history. Celtic’s best sides prominently featured home-grown talent, like the youngsters who became the Lisbon Lions, the Quality Street gang and members of the Seville team.

In recent years, we’ve seen players like Kieran Tierney, Callum McGregor and James Forrest become legends at Celtic Park. Other players have made the step up and sought pastures new, like Liam Henderson and Stuart Findlay.

However, there’s legitimate concern that we’re not giving enough opportunities to our youngsters, with the incredible prospect of 10IAR on the tip of everyone’s tongue.

Here are 3 exciting players from the academy that we’d like to see more of. There’s a particularly obvious inclusion, but hey: the simplest explanation is often the correct one.

Karamoko Dembele in action for Celtic / (Photo by Craig Foy/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Karamoko Dembélé

We should really worry about losing Karamoko Dembélé.

With only half a year left on his contract, the YouTube sensation and Celtic talent will have no doubt attracted suitors over the last couple of years.

While the young winger is a tiny 5’4″, he doesn’t play in a position that demands physicality. His height gives him a low centre of gravity and immense speed, used to devastating effect as these highlights show.

His vision and finishing abilities are excellent at youth level, and few who watch him can have doubts about his first-team prospects.

With Ryan Christie currently playing on the right, as a makeshift winger in James Forrest’s stead, we could do worse than to start Dembélé soon.

Able to represent Ivory Coast, Scotland or England, the youngster has picked the latter option for youth appearances. He’s won a lot of plaudits for club and country. If we don’t use him, we’ll lose him.

No Celtic supporter wants to see Wee Karamoko succeed elsewhere, knowing he could and should’ve been our player. Read John McGinley’s take here.

Conor Hazard: already an international player (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)

Conor Hazard

Our goalkeeping situation is bizarre at the moment. Over the on 67 Hail Hail YouTube channel, we spoke about how frustrating it is that we’ve spent a decent amount on an international goalie who doesn’t play.

Scott Bain isn’t doing himself any favours, and as such, we need to look at other options. Conor Hazard might be just the man.

At 22, he’s old for a youngster but in his infancy in goalkeeping terms. During a successful loan spell with Dundee in 19-20, he kept 6 clean sheets in 11 games.

Considering the unpredictability of the Scottish Championship, that’s a more than acceptable return for the Irishman.

He’ll never be the most famous Hazard, but he’s certainly worth a go between the sticks. That is, of course, if Barkas can’t get back into the team.

He might need another loan spell, specifically one where he’s the first-choice goalie, but there is evidence that Hazard can shut out teams at a decent level.

Cameron Harper impressed against Partick Thistle / (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group via Getty Images)

Cameron Harper

Anyone who watched Celtic’s Colt side taking on Partick Thistle this week in the City of Glasgow Cup will have enjoyed what they saw.

In an eerily quiet Firhill, Cameron Harper netted twice as the Bhoys won 4-0.

While honourable mentions must be thrown in the direction of Owen Moffat and Luca Connell, the latter of whom was signed from Bolton Wanderers in 2019, Harper really stood out.

The 19-year-old’s incisive movement, finishing and determination provided tonic to Celtic supporters, who have had a less than enjoyable few weeks.

The Sacramento-born winger was discovered by Tommy Burns’ son Jonny, who watched Harper play for a USA youth side.

This chance meeting with the son of a Celtic legend is proper ‘Goal’ stuff, a Hollywood story for a boy who grew up in California.

He made the match day squad against Dundee United along with fellow prospect Kerr McInroy, but is yet to see full first team action.

With Elyounoussi only in on a temporary basis, and continuing injury problems ruling out Mikey Johnston and James Forrest, Harper could cement a place in and around the starting XI if he continues to impress.

Watching him against Partick Thistle, it’s hard to believe he won’t.