“He’s got bags of ability Mikey,” says teammate, “he’s right up there with the best”

Celtic only looked like scoring against Hibs at Easter Road on Saturday after Brendan Rodgers took off his under-firing front three of Luis Palma, Kyogo and Daizen Maeda. All three perhaps could have been given a chance to sit on the bench at 3pm when the game kicked-off as they had all given so much against Atletico Madrid last Wednesday night.

Brendan Rodgers had stated in his pre-match media conference that he would be looking to his squad to help get the club through this difficult bunch of games with so many in such a short spell of time. So when the team was announced a 1.45pm many an eyebrow would have been raised that the only change was the injured Reo Hatate being replaced by Paulo Bernardo – who effectively played an entire match against the Spanish giants in the Champions League.

So there would be no fresh legs in the Celtic team that played Hibs and it was there for all to see that this was a major mistake. Would a front three of Forrest, Oh and Mikey Johnston have faired better? Who knows but when they were on the park Celtic at least threatened.

Oh has waited patiently for a start and Saturday was surely the right time to give him his chance to get his season up and running?

James Forrest has been praised by the manager over the past few weeks yet wasn’t given the nod at the weekend. Jamesy almost won it for Celtic and also threatened again in the closing seconds but the angles were against him at the near post.

And Mikey Johnston, such a talent with no luck to go with it while wearing a Celtic jersey, came on and gave 100% in his first start in YEARS. Rusty? A Little, but surely that isn’t a suprise? Over eager and trying to force things? Undoubtedly. But if ever there’s a player where Brendan Rodgers’ man-management skills can be utilised then it’s with Mikey Johnston.

And looking back on the weekend blame game, certainly on social media, was being directed mostly in Forrest and especially in Mikey Johnston’s direction. Yet if you want to attribute blame then look at the manager who failed to recognise that the from three and perhaps Bernardo as well had given so much on Wednesday. Indeed even Callum McGregor was subdued at Easter Road – Hibs certainly got Celtic on the right day, did they not?

Hibernian v Celtic – Mikey Johnston  and  Lewis Miller battle for the ball during the cinch Premiership match at Easter Road .  Saturday October 28, 2023.Photo Jane Barlow

Greg Taylor spoke up for Mikey Johnston after the game and pointed out that he is as good as it gets as an opponent in training. The Scotland international reckons that Mikey must have the belief in himself to force his way into the side and points to the example of the winger’s Republic of Ireland teammate Liam Scales as a case in point.

“It shows you it can happen,” the Celtic left-back stated. “But equally, you’ve got to want it, you’ve got to work, you’ve got to show that you are ready when the manager calls upon you.

Hibernian v Celtic – Mikey Johnston of Celtic is dejected after the Cinch Scottish Premiership match between Hibernian and Celtic at Easter Road, on 28 October 2023. Photo Paul Phelan PSI

“That goes for us all whether you play 20 games a season, 60 games a season or five. You’ve got to take the opportunity when it comes. That’s the life of a squad,” Taylor said, as reported by Glasgow Times.

Specifically on what Mikey Johnston brings to the Celtic squad Taylor clearly rates the Irish winger highly.

“He’s got bags of ability Mikey. One v one in training, he’s right up there with the best. You see his performances for Ireland, they’ve been very strong as well. So, Mikey’s got ability. It’s just about delivering on a consistent level. If he does that in training, then he’ll get the opportunity in games. There is a top player there.”

Hibernian v Celtic –  Lewis Miller and Mikey Johnston battle for the ball during the cinch Premiership match at Easter Road on Saturday October 28, 2023. Photo Jane Barlow

Yesterday Just an Ordinary Bhoy wrote about the post-match stick that was directed mostly at Mikey Johnston, but also James Forrest and David Turnbull after the match, which you can read below. We’ll never know for sure but had those three, along with Oh leading the line, started on Saturday, it’s very possible that Celtic would have picked up all three points.

This one has to be down to Brendan and certainly not the usual scapegoats who came off the bench and at least looked like scoring. You wonder if the manager will factor all this in for Wednesday night’s match at Celtic Park against St Mirren where there will surely be some changes to the starting line-up.

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

READ THIS…Mikey may not be the answer, but some of the abuse he receives is out of order

Matt Corr’s new book Majic, Stan and the King of Japan is out now and Neil Lennon, the Celtic captain that season, has written the foreword for us.

You can get a signed copy of the hardback version direct from Celtic Star Books by clicking on the image below. It’s also available an an e-book via Amazon Kindle and please note that all colour photographs that appear in the beautifully presented printed hardback book are also available in the Kindle version of Majic, Stan and the King of Japan…

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

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