Mikey Johnston to Pick Ireland Over Scotland, but can he Salvage Celtic Career

According to media reports, Celtic winger Mikey Johnston, currently on loan with Vitoria Guimarães in the Portuguese Primeira Liga, is set to switch International allegiance from Scotland to the Republic of Ireland.

The Glasgow born wide man has represented Scotland at Under 19 and Under 21 levels, but has so far failed to make the breakthrough to the senior side.  With that looking unlikely to change in the near future, Johnston’s Irish heritage may just hand him an International lifeline.

The 23-year-old has endured a stop-start career due to injuries after breaking into the first-team set up at Celtic towards the end of Brendan Rodgers second season at the club.  However, a succession of injuries has hampered the wingers progress, leading to his summer move to Portugal in a bid to rebuild his career.

Johnston first hit the headlines with the Scotland Under 21’s in 2018 when he was named 3rd best player at the prestigious Toulon Tournament where he also scored a sensational solo goal against England in the semi-finals.

Full of pace and flair, the talented winger was initially given his chance to shine under Rodgers, providing competition to Scott Sinclair and James Forrest in the wide berths.  Impressive performances at home and in Europe hinted at Johnston’s promise and he continued to play a role in the team under Neil Lennon after Rodgers departure.

However, a string of injuries has resulted in Johnston missing 77 games since the start of the 2019/20 season, and when he did play, his form was patchy at best.

The arrival of Postecoglou at the start of last season heralded a new dawn for Johnston with the slate wiped clean.  Plagued by the same injury concerns and inconsistent performances, Johnston soon found himself side lined as Jota, Abada, and Forrest fought over the starting places.

Over the course of last season Johnston made 20 appearances for Celtic, only 5 coming as a starter.  His last appearance, for now, in the Hoops came away to Dundee United in the Scottish Cup in March, a 14 minute cameo when the game was already won.

Since moving to Guimarães, the left winger has featured in every match day squad, only failing to make an appearance on 4 occasions but has failed to nail down a consistent place in the team.

A return of 3 goals and 3 assists in 20 appearances across league and cup competitions has caught the attention of Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny, who, it appears, has convinced Johnston to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Aiden McGeady and James McCarthy by choosing to represent Ireland over Scotland.

Whether this level of output is enough to convince Ange Postecoglou that the talented but frustrating winger has a future at Celtic Park remains doubtful.

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