There must always be a sense of being out of sight and therefore out of mind when a Celtic player moves out on loan from Celtic.
In the case of Mikey Johnston however his 20 appearances, three goals and a further three assists with Portuguese side Vitória de Guimarães have led to a call up to Stephen Kenny’s Republic of Ireland side, an impactful cameo role from the subs bench against Latvia in a friendly, and tonight the chance to face up to a French side who have recently returned from the Qatar World Cup with a silver medal – and having competed with Argentina in arguably the greatest World Cup Final of all time.
And if that isn’t enough to ensure Mikey Johnston is at the forefront, rather than the back of everyone’s mind, legendary French boss Didier Deschamps, as reported in the Irish Independent, has now namechecked Johnston, alongside Brighton’s young striker Evan Ferguson, as a threat to his French side ahead of this evening clash with France in Dublin.
“There is a new generation with new players, Ferguson poses a threat – he is a good player, Johnston, as well, has joined the team, it is a mix of young and experience. But our team is different, too. Ireland are known for being direct and vertical in how they play, but of what I’ve seen in recent games they are capable of playing the ball along the ground as well.”
Opinions on Mikey Johnston certainly vary amongst the Celtic support, but in truth there is only one man the Celtic winger needs to convince. Ange Postecoglou was willing to extend the contract of Mikey before he headed out on loan, and if that is to mean anything, Johnston will have to convince Postecoglou that he can be a contributor to his impressively built and robust Celtic squad.
Johnston is certainly setting about his task with some impressive numbers, and with his Portuguese club sitting fifth in the Primeira Liga it is clear the standard of club and league is not something to underplay. Now with the possibility of a first start for his country, Johnston has a chance to prove Deschamps right to namecheck the Celtic winger as a threat to his star-studded French side.
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However, Johnston now also has to evidence to Ange Postecoglou, on a big stage, that he has a future at Celtic as well as with Ireland, whilst showing the Celtic support, that whilst he may be out of sight to Celtic fans most weeks , he shouldn’t be far from our minds.