Five players who could be unlikely Celtic heroes this season

This time last season Brendan Rodgers was just beginning work with the squad he inherited from Ange Postecoglou.

The Celtic manager was busy welcoming in a number of summer signing that were already in the pipeline before the treble winning Australian manager decided to take the Tottenham job.

Ange Postcoglou at the 2023 Scottish Cup Final

Barry Robson was manager at Aberdeen and he was continually on the phone to Rodgers, attempting to bring Irish defender Liam Scales back to his club after a successful loan spell up at Pittodrie. While it looked like a deal was going to be agreed, with Aberdeen willing to pay around £500k for the Irish squad player who was very much on the fringes of thing at Celtic under Postecoglou, Rodgers was experienced enough to take his time and evaluate his options.

With Carl Starfelt wanting away, Celtic lined up two central defensive replacements in Polish u21 star Maik Nawrocki from Legia Warsaw and Sweden’s defender of the year Gustaf Lagerbielke, who arrived from IF Elfsborg.

IMAGO / Shutterstock

With one out and two coming in it looked like Liam Scales’ chances of making the breakthrough at Celtic were about to become even tougher while Robson’s confidence in securing his primary target in the summer 2023 transfer window must have risen.

They say football’s a funny old game and so it proved for Liam Scales over the next few months and indeed for the rest of last season. Starfelt left Celta Vigo, Cameron Carter-Vickers had an injury set-back after his knee operation earlier in the year and Maik Nawrocki picked up an injury in the closing seconds of Celtic’s league cup defeat at Rugby Park at the end of August.

20th August 2023; Rugby Park, Kilmarnock, Scotland: Scottish Viaplay Cup Football, Kilmarnock versus Celtic; Liam Scales of Celtic, Gustaf Lagerbielke of Celtic and Maik Nawrocki of Celtic

Next up for Celtic after that shock cup exit was the Glasgow Derby at Ibrox and Brendan Rodgers had to throw in Scales alongside Lagerbielke. The Irishman won Man of the Match in an unlikely 1-0 victory for an injury ravaged Celtic side and the first goalscorer backers were handsomely rewarded using this bet365 free bet incentive, with the only goal coming from Kyogo Furuhashi.

Scales never looked back, starring in the Champions League, breaking into the Ireland side where he is now a regular starter, earning a place on the SPFL Team of the Season and being rewarded with a new, lucrative long-term contract at Celtic.

Barry Robson, incidentally lost his job at Aberdeen after his side shipped too many goals.

So who in the Celtic squad this summer could ‘do a Liam Scales‘ and be unlikely Celtic stars in season 2024/25?

Here are our five contenders…

Hibernian v Celtic, Cinch Scottish Premiership, , Easter Road. Mikey Johnston in action for Celtic. 28 October 2023:Photo Stuart Wallace/Shutterstock

1. Mikey Johnston – Regarded very highly indeed by the club, Brendan Rodgers described Johnston as the best player that the Celtic Academy has produced in recent times. Yet it has never quite worked out for the winger, through injuries and the pressure to deliver on his potential whilst wearing a Celtic shirt. A loan spell at West Brom last January saw Mikey at last start to shine on a regular basis, scoring seven times in 18 starts and winning a Championship Player of the Month award. He’s back at Lennoxtown at the moment and while there may be bids incoming, Rodgers seems more than willing to give Mikey one last chance to show his true potential at Celtic. He may well take it, given the chance, and some luck.

Derby County v Fleetwood Town EFL League 1 19/08/2023. Bosun Lawal of Fleetwood Town at the Pride Park, Derby, on 19 August 2023. Photo PSI

2. Bosun Lawal – Spent a successful loan at Fleetwood Town last season, initially under the management of former Celtic captain Scott Brown. Broony lost his job early in the season but Lawal went onto star for the then League One side in what was a difficult season. Moving from central defence to a holding midfield role appears to have won the Irish u21 international numerous admirers in England but Rodgers has the player back at Celtic and he could be given his chance this season.

20th August 2023; Rugby Park, Kilmarnock, Scotland: Scottish Viaplay Cup Football, Kilmarnock versus Celtic; Marley Watkins of Kilmarnock tackles Maik Nawrocki of Celtic

3. Maik Nawrocki – The Polish defender will be looking to stay fit and establish himself in the Celtic first team this season. Nawrocki was clearly frustrated at his injury woes that led to a stop-star season. He remains a popular player with the supporters and one that Brendan Rodgers is going to be determined to get the best from. Things might just click into place for the highly rated Polish star.

Brendan Rodgers, Manager of Celtic, shakes hands with Odin Thiago Holm of Celtic after the Scottish Premiership victory over theRangers FC at Ibrox on September 03, 2023. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

4. Odin Thiago Holm – The 20 year old Norwegian has talent in abundance and while enduring a difficult debut season at the Scottish Champions, the creative midfielder, who was signed last summer from Valerenga in the Norwegian Eliteserien, showed bags of promise and is a player that the Celtic support wants to get excited about. His red card in the Champions League in Rotterdam against Feyenoord was a low point but he can learn from that and could be an important player for Celtic this season, particularly if Matt O’Riley, as expected is sold for around £30 million.

29th July 2023 Aviva Stadium, Dublin Pre Season Friendly, Celtic versus Wolverhampton Wanderers – Hyeokkyu Kwon of Celtic FC looking for a way through the defence. Photo ActionPlus Peter Fitzpatrick

5. Hyeokkyu Kwon – The South Korean midfielder was sent out on loan to St Mirren in the January transfer window and impressed for the Saints, helping them to a top six finish. Indeed, Steven Robinson, the St Mirren manager is keen to bring him back for a season long loan but Brendan Rodgers will wait until he’s had a closer look at Kwon in Celtic’s five pre-season matches which begin tomorrow night away to Scott Brown’s new charges Ayr United. Kwon can play his way into contention in these five games which of course incudes games against Chelsea and Manchester City in the United States.

About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor David Faulds has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email editor@thecelticstar.co.uk

1 Comment

  1. Was waiting until after tonight’s game before making an opinion?
    Could understand why you highlighted the 5 that you did?
    But thinking it’s more about weather these 5 can earn a place within our 25man squad, as would struggle to nail down a regular starting position for ourselves, as things stand currently imo?
    Still fail to see how Mikey Johnston is going to fit in, and possibly only an outside chance of being required to help make-up our 8 homegrown quota?
    At this stage within his career, he should be ahead of Forrest in claiming a position, yet looking like he is never going to achieve that now imo, so would be surprised if he wasn’t sold during the summer window imo?
    Rocki may have been regarded as our 3rd choice CB last season, when actually fit enough to take up the position?
    Still regard Rocki as a decent backup option for CCV, so worthy of a squad place imo?
    Yet these ongoing injury issues could be potentially putting that position in danger for himself also?
    With Welsh, and a returning Dane Murray, and ourselves potentially in the market for another left sided CB?
    Then rocki position within our 25man squad still might not be as secure as I once thought with these injury concerns?
    Possibly needs to be available and a decent USA tour, to secure the position for himself, especially as I would still regard him as a better backup option for CCV than Welsh imo?
    Would be very surprised if lawal wasn’t to be within Rodgers 25man squad next season imo?
    With his potential versatility and a homegrown talent also, would be a no brainer for him to be included imo?
    Might be limited upon game time to begin with, but nothing to suggest that he couldn’t take his opportunity when it arises over the course of the season also imo?
    Our midfield areas regarding numbers required is far from completed at present, especially with the amount of rumours surrounding Oreily and his future with ourselves at present?
    Regardless, still believe that at least 1 position is available currently?
    So couldn’t totally rule out Kwon or Holm for making a claim for the position within the squad just yet either?
    Think both will be upon the plane for the USA, and could be a case of seeing weather they can step up against better opposition?
    Totally different types of players, so not so simple to actually determine where they might fit into the plans of Rodgers just yet?
    Could turn out to be a case of writing both of them off, just a bit to quickly for ourselves, so thinking the USA trip might help to determine where there potential Celtic careers could be heading?
    Personally wouldn’t write either off just yet, as already some huge signs of big improvements upon last season, especially within Kwon imo?
    Would have thought both were going to be loaned out next season, but a decent USA trip could change all that still imo?
    Already looking forward to these 3 games in the USA, when things could become far clearer onto where some of our so called fringe players could start making a far bigger impact for ourselves next season?
    Still want a keeper in place before the plane takes off for sure?

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