Brendan Rodgers hasn’t held back in his demands of Mikey Johnston after the winger was handed his first start in a long time at Celtic Park. The Republic of Ireland star caught the attention when he came off of the substitutes bench at the weekend up at McDiarmid Park and the manager has repaid that faith by putting him in from the start against Hibs last night.
The 24-year-old looked to be another player who was miles out of the picture under Rodgers at Paradise, but his recent cameo appearances from the sidelines have prompted the suggestion that perhaps he could have one last throw of the dice to save his career in the hoops. Tonight was a chance to really stake a claim for a regular starting spot and convince his manager that he has the consistency and personality to play for Celtic.
🗣️'Mikey needs to do more. He's not young, he's 24. At some point he has to grab the bull by the horns'
— BBC Sport Scotland (@BBCSportScot) December 6, 2023
Unfortunately, Mikey once again really struggled to have a strong influence on the game against Nick Montgomery’s side and except for a few nice touches and flicks, never really troubled the Hibs defence. Rodgers has acknowledged this fact after he hooked the forward later in the game for Australian, Marco Tilio.
After the match, he said of Johnston and his display: “Mikey needs to do more, that is the reality,” as reported by Daily Record. “He has big talent and comes into the game but if you are going to start the game, we need more impact from him but that is something we can hopefully see over the course of time.”
The demanding Irishman, who has previously won titles at this club and worked with some fabulous forwards, insists that Mikey can’t get away with the tag of needing time to develop as the team needs leaders to emerge during this taxing period of the year.
He added: “He’s not young. He is 24. At some time you need to grab the bull by the horns and be agressive. It can be easier coming off the bench, it doesn’t feel like pressure. You can come in and show your qualities. If any player wants to be starting here you have to have that personality to come in and play. But he’s been really good in training and earned the start. Hopefully if he gets more starts he can show more of his qualities.”