Celtic midfielder James McCarthy needed international break more than anyone

By David Walton

September 5, 2021

The international break is hardly globally adored, but Celtic midfielder James McCarthy will be one of the few who will have been thankful for it.

The new Hoops signing joined the club just over a month ago. It came after weeks without any first-team training after being released by Crystal Palace back in June. And it’s fair to say that’s shown too.

McCarthy, over the last month, has only racked up 30 minutes of football. This was over two games against Hearts and AZ Alkmaar respectively. We’ve had eight competitive matches since he joined the club too.

Photo By Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

It’s fair to say his impact over the first month has been minimal. Not that that’s been unexpected. Celtic supporters will have known given his previous injury problems and lack of serious game-time that this was a slow burner.

However, there will have been hope after his cameos that he was going to build from there. After Alkmaar, he’s been out of the squad for games against St Mirren, Alkmaar again, and Rangers respectively.

The latest from Ange Postecoglou on him was when he said that he would possibly be fit for Ibrox [Glasgow Times]. As we all know, that wasn’t the case. It’s unclear as to what’s been holding the Republic of Ireland international back, but whatever it is, it must be short-term.

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James McCarthy needed international break to shrug off Celtic injury issues

And that’s why this international break has been a godsend for him. Giving him the extra two weeks allows the former Hamilton and Wigan man to get back on track fitness-wise and shrug off whatever knock he had.

We’re a month into his Celtic career and it’s time McCarthy started making an impact. Yes, Celtic have a settled midfield with the likes of Callum McGregor, David Turnbull, and Ismaila Soro all available. But we need another body in there for rotation, and McCarthy fits the bill perfectly.

Him not being available for large swathes of the last month hasn’t been ideal. It’s meant that Turnbull, for example, has played every game without a rest.

Had we continued to crack on with no break available, goodness knows how many more games McCarthy could’ve been missing.

Photo by Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Offside via Getty Images

We have a monumental Europa League opener with Real Betis coming up. Not to mention tough trips to Livingston and Aberdeen before the next international break. If McCarthy was to have missed games of that magnitude or only taken part in them when half-fit, it would’ve been a real blow.

Fingers crossed he’s been able to put in a power of fitness work so far, with more to come this week. When it comes to selection for Ross County next Saturday, Celtic fans want to see his name in contention.

The time for fitness-building is over. McCarthy’s Celtic career starts now, and it’s time for him to make a big impact.

In other news, Celtic great Kenny Dalglish talks up Cameron Carter-Vickers’ mentality

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