A Celtic State of Mind began life as an audio podcast back in the summer of 2017. At that time, Mikey Johnston was an 18-year-old prospect who had graduated from Celtic’s Academy with flying colours.
His career hasn’t gone the way many of his team-mates and managers predicted, but nearly seven years on and he is still at the club, but for how long?
As Celtic prepared to face Rangers in the final game of 2023, Johnston climbed off the Dens Park bench on Boxing Day to net a brace and give Brendan Rodgers’ side a 3-0 cushion before the big Glasgow Derby.
The Japanese winger will be absent during his country’s participation in the Asian Cup, and we will undoubtedly miss his pace, energy and relentless pressing.
Over the last two-and-a-half seasons, when Maeda has been available he has played, but his international endeavours may create an opportunity for one of our other wingers to shine.
The Israeli has had an injury-plagued season under Brendan Rodgers, and it was great to see him back in action just before the break.
Brendan Rodgers has stated that Abada has been performing well at Lennoxtown since returning to the training pitch. His goal contribution has been sorely missed this season so expect him to step into Maeda’s berth.
The Honduran has been Celtic’s signing of the summer, but he is still rough around the edges.
Rodgers is the perfect coach to maximise Palma’s potential and, on form, the 23-year-old will always make the starting XI.
The South Korean will also be participating at The Asian Cup after a bright start to life in Scotland.
Despite flashes of brilliance, Yang has been inconsistent and still looks like ‘one for the future’.
Despite enjoying just two cameos for Celtic, Tilio is also away to The Asian Cup with Australia.
Things haven’t worked out for the 22-year-old and there are rumours of an imminent return to Australia on loan.
The veteran will be used sparingly by Brendan Rodgers, but his experience is vital in this Celtic side.
He will finish his career at Celtic Park but will spend the rest of his time at the club warming the bench.
Johnston has been pretty hit and miss so far this season, with his initial opportunities in the team only coming due to injuries to Daizen Maeda and Liel Abada.
He has made some impressive cameos from the bench, including against St Johnston away as well as against Lazio in the Champions League.
The problem is, he was never able to really capitalise on those strong displays, with the starting opportunities that followed seeing him turn in some poor performances.
Mikey wasn’t at his best away to Kilmarnock, and his substitution in the defeat to Hearts at Celtic Park was greeted with cheers from the Celtic support, which is never a good sign.
Brendan Rodgers has shown already that starting opportunities are hard to come by if you aren’t a star player, as evidenced by Gustaf Lagerbielke getting dropped from the team completely after scoring a last-minute winner against Feyenoord.
Even with three wingers at the Asian Cup, Mikey Johnston will find himself as a backup to Palma and Abada. Whether the club or the player is satisfied with that progress after all these years will be clear by the end of the January window.
JAMES MCKENZIE // Follow James HERE