The fringe Celtic Academy graduate who deserves a chance against St Johnstone

By Euan Davidson

December 23, 2021

If the season ended tomorrow, Celtic man Ewan Henderson could reflect on a 100% record in 21-22.

In 19 minutes of football, he’s scored in a Celtic win. Henderson was thrown on for Kyogo against Real Betis, got into a fantastic position, and netted a goal for the Hoops [UEFA].

Hardly bad going. But you sense the Celtic Academy graduate probably wants more than 19 minutes of football to his name. Having spent the back half of 20-21 on loan at Dunfermline and featuring in pre-season, it seemed like a new dawn for Henderson at Celtic.

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Nothing came. Then, with the Bhoys playing a very interesting side against Betis, and Henderson making an impact, again; here comes Ewan Henderson.

For whatever reason, though, during a significant injury crisis for Celtic, Henderson hasn’t featured. Now, not to second-guess the manager, who sees him in training, but it’s quite odd.

Especially with David Turnbull missing out. Or, indeed, Jota. Henderson, a versatile attacking player, is comfortable filling in on the wing, or in the position Turnbull has temporarily vacated. On the bench against St Mirren, he didn’t come on, but Liam Shaw did.

To me, at least, that’s a really strange one. And it seems time Henderson was given a fair shake again.

The SPFL do Celtic a massive favour, as Nicholson becomes permanent CEO

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67 Hail Hail (Youtube)

Celtic Academy graduate Ewan Henderson gives Ange Postecoglou an option

Nir Bitton has been very good, but having a deep-lying holding midfielder didn’t make the most sense last night. If Ange Postecoglou put Celtic Academy graduate Henderson in for Turnbull, he could have Callum McGregor dictating play; something that’s seen Celtic play their best football this season.

Again, no disrespect to Bitton, who’s a player I really like. But St Johnstone are defensively suspect at the moment, putting it mildly. This is a game we need to win. Bringing on Ewan Henderson from the start would be an indication that we’re going for the jugular.

He has positional sense in the box that isn’t really McGregor’s game. The captain prefers to dictate things from around the edge of the box, which is absolutely fine. But him doing so with two number 10s in Rogic and Turnbull tends to lead to clearer chances and more of a threat.

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We can’t afford to be anything less than ruthless against St Johnstone. With Turnbull extremely unlikely to feature, Henderson may not be the finished article quite yet, but he’s a calculated risk.

In his brief spell on the pitch this season, he was able to ghost in the box, and get a goal from close-range. That’s something Celtic specifically struggled to do last night; get the ball into awkward positions for St Mirren to deal with.

It’s certainly worthy of consideration. What’s more, it’d be a popular call, and if it doesn’t work, we have Bitton to come in and shore things up if needs be.

Seems win-win to me. But I’m not a football manager.

Read more: The key mistake Celtic boss made last night that’s gone under the radar