Celtic-linked Ali McCann scores classy first international goal with Northern Ireland

By David Walton

June 1, 2021

Reported Celtic target Ali McCann has seen his stock increase again after netting his first international goal for Northern Ireland.

McCann was given only his fourth call-up for his country in the current camp and played the full 90 minutes in a friendly against Malta. The St Johnstone midfielder would score his side’s third goal and secure his first ever international strike with a classy close-range finish which you can view below:

It caps off an absolutely incredible season for the youngster. As well as continuing his breakthrough with the Perth club, his international goal adds to both Betfred and Scottish Cup success. He’s been in the engine room for the lot of it, and is said to be worth £2m to any interested parties this summer [Scottish Sun].

Celtic have been linked with the player twice this season alone. Back in November, it was reported by the Courier that McCann had been watched by Parkhead scout Tosh McKinlay against Motherwell.

That was followed by the Sunday Post claiming that Celtic watched him again in last month’s Scottish Cup semi-final win against St Mirren [print edition, 09/05, back page].

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Ali McCann just keeps impressing; Northern Ireland goal another big step

Watching Ali McCann closely is great viewing. He strolls the vast majority of games he competes in, and has tremendous composure on his shoulders too. Nothing this season has fazed him. Whether it be international appearances, cup finals, or a tense penalty shootout at Ibrox. In all of these situations, he’s showed nerves of total steel.

It’s clear he’s valued highly by Ian Baraclough. Some may look down on Northern Ireland and question whether playing for them makes you Celtic class. No is the answer, but using that to bash McCann is out of order. At only 21 he’s been a key cog in his box-to-box role as he’s helped bring European football back to McDiarmid Park.

Some may scoff at splashing out £2m, but St Johnstone are quite right to demand it. We’re talking about a player with terrific potential. A player who has already done so much for only two years at the top level.

St Johnstone celebrate winning The Scottish Cup / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Granted, there are massive areas of his game that need to improve. He’s still a touch easily brushed off the ball, whilst his goal return isn’t great a for a box-to-box player. But playing with better players should be McCann’s main goal. It’s always going to be difficult to rack up overly impressive stats at a club such as St Johnstone, no disrespect intended.

As for Celtic’s interest, you have to say that’s firmly up in the air. The club will likely have reports ready for the new manager to view on McCann. But a move anytime soon is looking more and more unlikely.

We can’t even guarantee who the new manager is at this rate. Trying to judge the players he thinks he’ll need at Celtic, therefore, is an impossible task just now. Fortunately for McCann, he’s keeping himself in the spotlight.

In other news, a report has explained why Celtic have yet to appoint Postecoglou.