Quality shot-stopper, exciting midfielder; Celtic 21-22 loanees go under the microscope
When Ange Postecoglou made his final call on which Celtic players should be loanees this season, you could generally say he and his staff did an alright job.
Last year, we had ongoing, tedious sagas over Marian Shved and Jack Hendry. We watched, week after week, to see if either of these hyped-up talents would get a Celtic chance again. They’re both now settled in the Belgian Jupiler Pro League, which answers that question succinctly.
This season, it’s a bit different. The advent of B Team football has been a Godsend. But it’s also created a class of not-quite-first-team, not-quite-B-team players, in a state of Celtic limbo. Certainly, players who were brought in this summer, like Liam Shaw and Osaze Urhoghide, fit that category.
The same will always be true of goalkeepers; if you’re not number 1, you’re on a long list.
So, at this point of the season, it’s worth checking to see who’s impressing, who needs to improve, and what their picture looks like for next season.
Celtic 21-22 loanees: The positives
The clear leader of the pack is Ross Doohan. At one point this season, his stats ranked up kindly with the likes of Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy. In his second stint at Tranmere Rovers, the Clydebank-born shot-stopper has impressed again.
He’s made 33 appearances, conceding 35 and keeping 14 clean sheets across all competitions. There’s still a way to go, but Doohan is on the right track.
So is Luca Connell. The Liverpool-born Irish youth international has had another decent season at Queens Park, having helped the Spiders gain promotion to SPFL League One in 20-21. This time round, continuity has done him good. Two goals against Dumbarton at the weekend only added to his future Celtic chances.
Scott Robertson has had a mixed time. He’s struggled with disciplinary issues, and was suspended for three Crewe Alexandra games earlier in the season. When he’s on it, though, he’s something to behold. Having been talked about for a while, he’s still someone with potential.
Kerr McInroy was so impressive at Airdrieonians, that he moved up a tier in the winter. He’s now at Ayr United, and his contract is up with Celtic in the summer. Barry Coffey, meanwhile, is enjoying himself at Cork City; in just 3 games, he’s scored twice and set up one more, in the recently-started League of Ireland Premier Division.
With some Celtic 21-22 loanees, it’s either too early to tell, or it hasn’t really worked
Liam Shaw has made an ok start to his time at Motherwell, but having played just a handful of times, Graham Alexander clearly doesn’t quite trust him yet.
Osaze Urhoghide, his fellow ex-Sheffield Wednesday teammate, got off to a rough start with KV Oostende. He’s since improved, and even talked up the prospect of a permanent move to Belgium. Seems that we weren’t quite done with Belgian sagas when Jack Hendry was finally sold.
Adam Montgomery’s injury at Aberdeen came at a brutal time. That, on paper, looked an excellent loan move for him, although he didn’t convince Dons fans of his true quality before being ruled out for a few weeks. He’ll get more chances.
Jonathan Afolabi did a reverse-McInroy, leaving Ayr United to play at Airdrieonians with Brody Paterson, a star of the Celtic Academy. Afolabi scored just one in the SPFL Championship before his mid-season move [Transfermarkt], poor form from a player who impressed in patches last season.
Conor Hazard has made just one appearance for HJK Helsinki, while Boli Bolingoli is yet to play for FC Ufa. That’s a situation to keep an eye on.
Generally speaking, though, it’s been difficult to see real, tangible progress in most cases. Players you can really, truly see making the first-team next season, from this crop, are at a premium. Adam Montgomery has impressed in Ange Postecoglou’s squad, and his loan made sense, but injuries have played a part.
Ange will undoubtedly be keeping a track of his loanees. And with a real wish to bring more Academy graduates into the first-team fold, it’ll be interesting to see if any of these players make pre-season games with Celtic.