The next big step Mikey Johnston must make if he's to realise his Celtic potential

By David Walton

February 15, 2022

Celtic winger Mikey Johnston just has no luck, and that was proven to be the case once again against Raith Rovers on Sunday.

The left-winger was given a rare opportunity against the Championship side. However, after showing poor end product once again, his afternoon ended when he had to come off with a worrying looking ankle injury. Johnston in particular looked a touch emotional about the injury, and no wonder too.

He’s already had to battle injury problems this season when he missed the start of the campaign with a knock. Since then, Ange Postecoglou has handed him 19 opportunities to impress. He only has 1 direct goal contribution to his name in the form of an assist.

Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

The Celtic supporters are beginning to lose a bit of patience. Johnston is struggling to recapture the form of 2019/20, when he managed 12 direct goal contributions in the first half of the campaign before tearing his ACL [Transfermarkt].

And now the next step for him has become clear. At 22, there remains plenty of time for him to realise his Celtic potential. But that’s clearly only going to come after he performs regularly elsewhere in a temporary departure from Parkhead.

Indeed, a loan move to Aberdeen was speculated in the press as the January transfer window neared its end [Daily Record]. In the end, nothing came of it and Mikey stayed under Ange Postecoglou’s wing.

Everything is falling into place for Celtic as Ange’s class shines through again

Everything is falling into place for Celtic as Ange’s class shines through again
67 Hail Hail (Youtube)

Mikey Johnston needs a temporary Celtic departure to realise potential

But even forgetting his injury woes, there are elements to Mikey’s game that need vast improvement if he’s to be a success under Ange. His end product continues to be extremely poor, whilst his link-up play is often messy.

He continues to have tricky feet and knows how to beat his man when one-v-one. However, his crossing is way off the mark. This is only something he’ll be able to improve upon if he joins another Premiership club or heads down south for a loan spell in England’s lower leagues.

Imagine how much better Johnston could be with a full campaign of matches under his belt. That’s not something Celtic can guarantee him given the performances of Jota and Daizen Maeda. Johnston is nowhere near a starting berth, yet it’s minutes he desperately needs to get the sharpness of 2 years ago back.

Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

At this point, we’re at the stage where this is now the only solution. Mikey can’t afford another 1 or 2 years of standing still. He can’t be at Celtic when he’s 24 or 25 and still nowhere near first-team contention.

We’ve seen in the past what loan spells have done for the likes of Ryan Christie and Kristoffer Ajer. It developed them both physically and mentally. Johnston’s latest blow against Raith yesterday summed up his last 2 years in truth.

Come the summer, there should be no more hanging around. A loan move is now a necessity, and it could be the making of a successful long-term Celtic career if it comes off.

In other news, “It’s been a bit messy”; Bodo/Glimt hero has kickstarted the pre-Celtic mind games