Celtic could be forced into playing youngster Owen Moffat in key position for UCL tie

By Euan Davidson

July 8, 2021

Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou knows he can’t take too much from a friendly match ahead of our meeting with FC Midtjylland.

That’s self-explanatory. Plenty of Celtic players have enjoyed impressive pre-seasons before achieving very little in competitive action. The sad truth is that not every player has what it takes to make it in the Bhoys first team, whatever they’ve achieved at youth level or in friendlies.

However, Postecoglou might have to make a bold decision against our Champions League opposition. After his barnstorming performance against Sheffield Wednesday on the right wing, Owen Moffat might have to fill an important role.

Again; it’s important not to read too much into friendlies. However, James Forrest’s Covid woes are well-known. Karamoko Dembele hasn’t been spotted in pre-season yet, despite this period surely being a big opportunity for him. You’d have to assume that, if available, he’d have made either team for yesterday’s oddly-formatted friendly.

He didn’t.

Alternatively, there’s the Ryan Christie option. The Scotsman played off the right flank plenty last season, but to minimal effect. It just isn’t his position. While you can see the logic in hoping for a Robben-style “cuts in on his left, hits a shot on his stronger foot” impact, it just didn’t happen.

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So, that leaves us with no real alternatives. If Owen Moffat can build on his impressive start under Postecoglou, it’s safe to assume he’ll at least be in contention.

Launching young players into European competition is nothing new, Celtic kid Moffat could be next

To be honest, it wouldn’t be entirely shocking. In prior European games, players have made their first real mark for Celtic. Examples include Scott Robertson, who made his Celtic first-team debut against Cluj in 2019 [Transfermarkt]. On our best night of 20-21, Turnbull, Soro and Ewan Henderson were thrown it at the deep end against Lille [BBC]. It worked, and we beat the eventual Ligue 1 Champions.

Ironically, Karamoko Dembele entered the history books himself, against Cluj in 2019 [Scotsman].

Photo by Paul Ursachi/MB Media/Getty Images

So, it wouldn’t be entirely unusual if Celtic gave Owen Moffat the nod to start against FC Midtjylland. Having come through the Academy as more of a centre-forward, it’s an interesting shift in his style. Let’s be clear; yesterday was not a big enough sample size to judge his abilities.

It was better than nothing, though, and “nothing” is what Celtic seem to have on the right-flank for our biggest game in months.

There’s the chance that Postecoglou could bring a right-winger in before we have to register our squad for the Champions League Qualifiers. However, there’s risk there, too; will they be match-fit? Will they be able to gel with the squad quickly enough?

Yes, it seems like a huge risk, and again, friendlies just aren’t enough evidence of a player’s ability. But we aren’t left with much choice, and history tells us it wouldn’t be entirely unexpected.

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