Charlie Mulgrew believes his “mirror image” Liam Scales could be destined to become Celtic’s player of the year after watching his remarkable breakthrough into the Celtic first team.
Mulgrew says the Ireland international is now one of the first names on Brendan Rodgers’ team sheet after grabbing his opportunity at the start of the season. He’s also been left scratching his head at the remarkable similarities to the start of his own trophy-laden time in the green and white.
And it’s not just the fact that they were both raw left-sided defenders who had to leave Celtic for Aberdeen to prove themselves worthy of a crack at the big time back in Glasgow. Having started life as left backs, each was asked to provide cover during an injury crisis and then had to quickly adapt to new roles on their Celtic Park returns.
And as if that wasn’t coincidental enough, both were thrown into the lion’s den in unfamiliar positions against Rangers at Ibrox – before passing the tough tests with flying colours. Mulgrew was drafted in to play in the middle when Neil Lennon’s side – decimated by injury – pulled off a shock 2-0 win at the home of their greatest rivals in the 2011 New Year showdown thanks to a brilliant Georgios Samaras double.
While this season, an injury crisis saw Scales, 25, filling in at centre half when Kyogo scored the only goal of the game in September.
Mulgrew, capped 44 times for Scotland, speaking to https://stocklytics.com/ explained these two very similar journeys travelled by firstly himself and now the Irishman Liam Scales.
“Liam has been tremendous, and the way things have gone for him reminds me a lot of myself,” Mulgrew said.
“Even his style of play. He’s a left-sided centre-half, good on the ball, but nobody expected him to come in.
“Then he gets his chance at Ibrox, gets a result – and he gains the trust of the fans, the staff and the manager. Liam defended well that day. Then people ask the question over whether you can stay in the team, and in every game you need to prove yourself, and you do that through performances and through results.
“And if the results keep coming, people see that you’ve played well, and the clean sheets keep coming. You need to do that over the course of maybe ten games which he has done now, and that’s when you become a regular.
“That’s exactly what I did, and I understood at the time that even though I was now in, one bad result – even if it’s nothing to do with you – people will start saying Scales isn’t the answer or Mulgrew isn’t the answer.
“You need a lot of things to go for you and that has happened, and to his credit, he has been absolutely brilliant and deserves his chance. He’s probably one of the first names on the team sheet now, along with Carter-Vickers, I don’t think anybody would argue with that.”
Mulgrew, who left Celtic for Blackburn in 2016, believes the Irishman – who played a full 90 minutes for his country against the Netherlands at the weekend and hopes to feature in tonight’s friendly with New Zealand – could well be among the prizes when the end of season player of the year awards are handed out.
“Liam’s definitely up there with Kyogo, Calum McGregor and Matt O’Riley. He’s been there when it has counted, and it’s still quite early days in the season, but I’m sure he’ll want to stay in there and win stuff, and there’s no reason why he can’t if he continues to perform the way he has.
“International recognition is another similarity. That started to happen for me as well with Scotland, and all these things fall into place, and it can change your life and your career. But the most important thing is you focus on your game, and if results come, brilliant.”