“It gives you a taste of it,” Liam Bonetig

Liam Bonetig has admitted training with the Celtic first-team occasionally and watching the progress of fellow academy stars like Daniel Kelly has got him pining for an opportunity like that for himself at some point down the line. The central defender was signed from Western Sydney Wanderers last September and the player has been quietly settling in to his surroundings ever since.

A highly-rated and sought after prospect, the Wanderers’ youth product was earning rave reviews during an Australian Schoolboys’ tour of the UK and Ireland just before he joined the Hoops. The centre-back also grabbed himself a Player of the Tour award for his performances during that jaunt of these Isles and it’s partly what prompted the Hoops to make their move for the promising defender.

The 18-year-old has been trying himself out in the Lowland League and more importantly the UEFA Youth League, where he managed to pit his wits against the likes of Ateltico Madrid, Lazio and Feyenoord’s top youth players. With him getting comfortable with his situation now, he’s looking at potentially breaking into that Celtic squad along with his former teammates Kelly and Rocco Vata, both of whom are training with the Bhoys’ senior team regularly now.

Speaking to FTBL in his homeland, the former Syndey Wanderers man said: “We see the first team every day, and there are times I’ve trained with them – it gives you a taste of it and you realise you’re not that far off.

A couple of the boys from the U-23s are getting minutes now under Brendan Rodgers and they’re always looking for the youngsters to push on. It’s such a big club and the competition is massive with a first team squad of around 35. When you train with the senior side you see it: the level is quicker, sharper and stronger. It’s the little details like the passing, the communication – there are rarely any mistakes. It’s been a good test and good experience.”

The youngster knows he faces an uphill battle to break into that first-team but rekcons he can put himself in a good position by preparing his body well enough away from the pitch and training right when he’s with that B-team.

“Being at a club this size the standards are so high, a lot of it is off the field doing all the right things so you’re body is right for training each day and the next game. Coming here on trial initially opened my eyes to how big Celtic are and I think I’ve settled in pretty well. The way of playing throughout the club is out from the back, and that suits me as a ball playing centre half.”

He added: “First I want to get the ankle sorted, then have a good a pre-season as I can. Perhaps halfway through next season, if I can’t break into the senior squad here maybe get a loan elsewhere to experience some first team football. That’s what you often see happen here – it’s really a stepping stone towards the first team.”

Paul Gillespie

About Author

I'm a Garngad Bhoy through and through. My first ever Celtic game was a friendly against Italian side Parma at Celtic Park, in 2002. Currently a student of English Literature and Education at the University of Strathclyde for my sins. Favourite game would be a toss up between beating Manchester United with that Naka freekick, or the game against the Oldco when Hesselink scored in the dying seconds. I'm still convinced Cal Mac is wasted playing that far back.

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