Celtic’s four fringe players who need more game time

Usually friendlies aren’t to be read too much into, but there were a few interesting talking points in the Celtic B starting XI for their match against Ayr United in Michael Moffat’s testimonial.

This gave some fringe players an opportunity to get a rare outing in a Celtic jersey, something the Colts setup doesn’t always allow.

Here are four little-seen players who were able to get some game-time in their legs in this bounce match at the weekend.

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Marco Tilio

The Aussie winger signed for Celtic in the summer from Melbourne City, but hasn’t been seen in action in a Celtic jersey ever since arriving in Scotland

The 22-year-old was signed with an injury, which Celtic knew about, but the timeframe for his return has not yet been made clear by Brendan Rodgers. Media reports indicated that Tilio could be seen back in training or back in a Celtic shirt in October and he looks to be one step closer to recovery having lined up for the B team in friendly action.

Liel Abada’s long-term injury has meant that a position on the wing for Celtic is up for grabs, with the likes of Yang Hyun-Jun and Luis Palma both having made attempts to try and nail down that starting slot and James Forrest getting a rare start in that right wing berth at the weekend against Livingston.

This could open up the perfect pathway from the Socceroos international to get some first-team minutes in the coming weeks.


Kwon Hyeok-kyu

The South Korean hasn’t been seen in a starting role for the first-team ever since a poor display in another testimonial game, evidently struggling against Athletic Club in what was a 3-2 win for Celtic.

He doesn’t seem to be fancied by Brendan Rodgers with first-team minutes so far non-existent, and his recent selection for the B team is a strong indicator of what Rodgers thinks of him.

ACSOM has previously highlighted a potential struggle in the step-up from the Korean second division to the Scottish top flight, and a loan move in January to get some minutes and further his development may be a wise move.

Yuki Kobayashi

In a similar fashion to Kwon, Kobayashi seems to be completely out of the equation at Celtic at the moment. Even given the current lack of options Celtic has available at centre-back with injuries crippling Brendan Rodgers’ options there, Kobayashi just can’t seem to get a sniff.

A loan move may be the best option for Kobayashi as he is at the age where he needs minutes to develop, and it doesn’t look like he is going to be getting them under Brendan Rodgers any time soon.

Mikey Johnston

The Irish international’s inclusion in the Champions League squad caught many fans by surprise, with Johnston having been injured ever since he returned from his loan spell in Portugal at Vitoria de Guimaraes.

His inclusion in the B team squad may have just been as a way to get him back to match sharpness, but given Rodgers was the man that gave Mikey Johnston his first initial minutes in the Celtic first-team, the 24-year-old’s situation could be one to keep an eye on in the next few weeks.

The inclusion of these four players in a B-team fixture reignites that age-old dilemma around the death of Scotland’s reserve league. How do players like Kobayashi, Johnston, Tilio and Kwon get competetive games in their legs if they are not in Brendan Rodgers’ first-team?

As it stands, unless they go out on loan, they run the risk of stagnating at Lennoxtown for months at a time. Surely there is a better way to keep the squad fit and ready for match action?


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