The big winner of Celtic’s pre-season so far

By Dave Flanigan

July 17, 2022

For many football players, the pre-season represents the chance for a reset, a the chance to wipe the slate clean for the coming season.

Doubtlessly, there are some in Celtic’s team who likely have no future with the club, but one who has used this break to his advantage is David Turnbull.

The 23-year-old missed the majority of the second half of Celtic’s season, spending nearly four months out with a hamstring tear sustained in the League Cup Final victory over Hibs at Hampden Park.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Despite being integral and omnipresent for the half of the campaign, Turnbull was forced to watch from the sidelines as January recruits Reo Hatate and Matt O’Riley made telling contributions in his place, driving Celtic towards the Premiership title.

Whilst Turnbull has consistently contributed creatively since his initial Celtic breakthrough in the 3-2 win over Lille December 2020, his one-footedness often led to an abundance of unnecessary touches that grind attacks to a halt.

The focus during his time out appears to be improving his use of his weaker foot and maintaining the team’s tempo, as Turnbull has moved the ball considerably quicker in his pre-season appearances so far.

Staking a claim for one of the “8” spots

After manager Ange Postecoglou denied interest in PSG’s Edouard Michut, it seems likely that Celtic will sign a more defensively minded midfielder this summer, rather than replacing the outgoing Tom Rogic.

Turnbull has Reo Hatate, Matt O’Riley, and depending on the signing of a more defensive player to replace Callum McGregor in the “6” role, potentially the captain himself to compete with for a starting place in one of the “8” spots.

With fellow midfielder Yosuke Ideguchi also working his way back to first team football after injury problems of his own, the former Motherwell star has required a strong pre-season to keep himself at the front of his manager’s mind.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Turnbull followed up his goal and assist against Rapid Vienna in the 3-3 draw in the Austrian capital with a starring first half role in the 4-2 win against Banik Ostrava, before scoring again in yesterday’s 2-2 draw against Blackburn Rovers at Celtic Park.

Whilst his free kick against the English Championship took a fortunate deflection on its way past Kaminiski in the visitors’ goal, the Scotland international has taken advantage of Reo Hatate’s temporary absence to stake a serious claim for one of the two midfield spots for at least the Scottish Premiership curtain raiser against Aberdeen on July 31st and beyond.

In other news: Bosun Lawal’s Celtic future and the next steps