Is inclusion in Champions League squad a final lifeline for Mikey Johnston?

Mikey Johnston has now been a part of Celtic’s first-team squad for eight seasons. Having made his debut as an 18-year-old under Brendan Rodgers in 2016/17, the Irish international once again stands at a cross-roads in his career.

There was a similar feeling this time last year, before Ange Postecoglou loaned the winger out to Vitória de Guimarães in Portugal. Many fans thought we had seen the last of a player who has always promised so much, but he went on to make more appearances last season in the Primeira Liga than he ever has in a single season for Celtic. He also achieved full international honours for Ireland, having previously been capped at under-age level for Scotland.

When Rodgers returned to  Glasgow for his second Parkhead spell, Johnston would have breathed a hugh sigh of relief. The man who handed him his debut was back at the helm. It was time to wipe the slate clean and impress his former gaffer all over again. Then he was injured. The timing could not have been worse.

If the injury sustained by Johnston came as no surprise, then the player’s inclusion in Celtic’s squad for the Champions League certainly raised a few eyebrows.

Another surprise inclusion was Liam Scales, with the Irishman potentially seeing his first minutes in the Champions League during this campaign. But how likely are the pair to see any minutes on the pitch and were there any other surprise inclusions in the European squad?

Mikey Johnston

Fans may have been scratching their heads at the inclusion of Mikey Johnston in the Champions League squad, with the Irishman failing to have seen any first-team minutes so far this season as he recovers from injury.

Injuries have been the main story of Johnston’s Celtic career, and the 24-year-old has failed to live up to the expectations placed upon him by the Celtic supporters with his indecisiveness in front of goal not looking like improving any time soon.

His loan spell in Portugal led to many fans expecting him to be heading for the Parkhead exit door, but now he could be appearing for the Hoops in the Champions League.

Chances of that are unlikely, however, with the likes of Yang Hyun-jun, Daizen Maeda, Luis Palma, Marco Tilio and James Forrest all ahead of him in the pecking order.


Liam Scales

Liam Scales was included in Celtic’s European squad and after his display against Rangers at Ibrox, and you could argue that he has earned it.

With the likes of Cameron Carter-Vickers, Stephen Welsh and Maik Nawrocki all currently missing through injury, the pressure was on Scales to step up and rise to the occasion for what would be a massive game at Ibrox and he did just that in front of a hostile atmosphere.

The Celtic defence endured wave after wave of attack from the Ibrox side on their way to securing a vital three points. On the back of his man-of-the-match performance, Scales may even have secured himself a starting place alongside Gustaf Lagerbielke for the group stage curtain-raiser in Rotterdam against Feyenoord.

The starting lineup for Saturday’s visit of Dundee to Celtic Park will be one to keep an eye on and not just with the recent developments on the fitness of Reo Hatate but due to the current situation the squad faces at centre-back.

Nat Phillips wasn’t fit enough to make the squad at Ibrox but Brendan Rodgers mentioned earlier this week that the Liverpool loanee is getting close to full fitness and has been training at Lennoxtown.

Whoever starts against Dundee on Saturday will most likely be the pair that is selected for Celtic in Rotterdam on match-day 1, but you can’t say that Liam Scales doesn’t deserve another start after his Ibrox heroics. If he gets the nod, the Irishman needs to grab another opportunity by the scruff of the neck against the Dens Park side if he is looking to make a splash for Celtic in Europe.


Leave a Reply