Celtic duo clearly need to step things up in pre-season after derby snub

By David Walton

April 20, 2022

So much of the chat since Sunday has been about the substitutions Ange Postecoglou made to try and change the game against Rangers, but what about the ones he didn’t?

Mikey Johnston, James McCarthy, Christopher Jullien, and Yosuke Ideguchi were all snubbed when it came to first-team minutes on Sunday. When Ange decided to bring on another centre-back, Stephen Welsh was the option he opted for. When he needed to bring on another midfielder? Matt O’Riley and David Turnbull were thrown into the mix.

In the end, it didn’t work out. Celtic lost the Scottish Cup semi-final 2-1 and Rangers progressed to May’s showpiece final.

Photo by Kaz Photography/Getty Images

But it was extremely telling that Ange didn’t move for either Jullien or Ideguchi. Celtic were crying out for a tough-tackling midfielder to enter the pitch at Hampden. Especially when it became clear we were getting too easily overrun in that area of the park.

That Ange decided not to give Ideguchi even a cameo appearance says plenty. He isn’t in the squad because he’s not fit. He was available to play some minutes and the manager decided against it, despite making 6 subs.

As for Jullien, he must’ve been raising an eyebrow when Stephen Welsh was given the call to come on for Greg Taylor instead of him. The Frenchman has been available since early 2022. He also played for Celtic B against Rangers in the Glasgow Cup semi-final yesterday at Auchenhowie. In other words, he was also fit and available for minutes.

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Celtic boss didn’t see a need for Jullien or Ideguchi vs Rangers

Cameron Carter-Vickers and Carl Starfelt were clearly tiring in extra time. Yet Ange couldn’t bring himself to turn to the former Toulouse man as a replacement. And the fact he then went for Welsh to replace Taylor was another message for Jullien – he isn’t anywhere near a first-choice pick.

And that means a very clear goal has now become apparent for both Ideguchi and Jullien – step it up in pre-season. Both men will get opportunities to impress the manager at that point, and only then will they be given an opportunity to turn their Celtic careers around.

Nobody expected Ideguchi in particular to be this out of favour after his injury return earlier this year. He’s been available for around 2 and a half months and still isn’t getting a single chance to feature. He’ll have his eye on pre-season at this point, with the manager undoubtedly wanting more from him.

Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Fortunately for Ideguchi there’s a gap in this Celtic side when it comes to his attributes. Whilst we have some impressive box-to-box midfielders, we don’t necessarily have a tough tackler. Not since Scott Brown’s departure. Yosuke would hopefully be able to fill that role if he makes an impression in the summer.

Jullien’s situation is a touch more complicated. At the moment, you have to consider him as our 4th choice centre-back. Even if Carter-Vickers heads back to Spurs, there will be a demand for Ange to go into the market and find his replacement.

Time will tell whether Chris will have it in him to remind everyone of how good a player he is. Fears over the toll his injury left on him also remain.

Pre-season couldn’t be any bigger for him and Yosuke. Ange clearly wants to see more from them, and not throwing them on when the game looked like it needed their qualities says a lot about both men’s position at the moment.

In other news, Bundesliga youth coach discloses fascinating call with Celtic boss after Leverkusen