Mikey Johnston now in desperate need of the loan exit that could reignite Celtic career

By David Walton

May 25, 2022

12 months ago it looked as though Mikey Johnston was finally about to make his Celtic renaissance under Ange Postecoglou.

He was the shining light in our first 2 pre-season games before being snapped by a horror challenge against Bristol City in the 3rd. That kept Mikey out until September before he suffered further bumps and bruises over the course of the campaign that broke any momentum he tried to build.

Back in January, things looked like they were going to take a promising turn. He had been linked with a move to Aberdeen on loan [Daily Record], and it was clear a temporary departure was essential for him to finally kick on. But the window slammed shut with Mikey staying put, and he wasn’t selected for any of our league matches in the second half of the campaign.

Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

It’s fair to say a lot has happened over the last 12 months. Mikey is now no longer anywhere near a starting position down that left flank, with both Daizen Maeda and Jota ahead of him. Not to mention James Forrest can also make an impact in that position.

He’ll come into training fully fit and ready to go again, but nobody is really talking about him. The reason? We all know how far down the pecking order he truly is. Ange had predicted Mikey to make a “huge impact” after returning from his initial injury last term, but it never materialised [Scottish Sun].

And when you look at the squad situation heading into next season, only a loan exit makes any kind of sense when it comes to Mikey.

Mikey Johnston isn’t done at Celtic just yet

There will be at least 2 left-wingers in front of Johnston when we come back for pre-season training. Even if disaster struck and Jota didn’t arrive permanently, it would become a priority area for Ange to strengthen.

It doesn’t matter if Johnston would get scraps next season. The question he needs to be asking himself is whether he’ll get a sustained run of matches. Whether he would start enough fixtures to truly justify another year at Lennoxtown.

Johnston’s progress over the last 3 years has been slow. Perhaps even non-existent due to injuries. But he needs to go to a place that will give him more opportunities to build himself back up off the treatment table. A move to another Scottish Premiership would be ideal for all parties. Whenever he picks up injury knocks at Celtic, positional rivals shoot ahead of him and it leaves him playing catch-up for the rest of the campaign.

Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

We’ve seen how beneficial these kinds of loan moves have been in the past for players such as Ryan Christie and Kristoffer Ajer. Johnston can very easily still make something promising of his Hoops career with a strong campaign elsewhere.

The evolution of the Celtic squad has taken it beyond Johnston’s capabilities for now. That may sound a touch harsh but it’s the simple reality of the situation. Is he going to play over Jota or Maeda? Liel Abada or Forrest? Of course not, and with a contract that runs until 2025, there’s no point throwing in the towel just yet.

A loan exit has to be the final outcome here. Fingers crossed that’s something that can be sorted.

In other news, Celtic star Reo Hatate’s class message to Kawasaki Frontale supporters today