Ray Houghton – Mikey Johnston deserves another chance under Brendan Rodgers

Ray Houghton wants Republic of Ireland winger Mikey Johnston given another chance under returning boss, Brendan Rodgers. The former Ireland defender has been mightily impressed with the trickster since he was included in the squad by Stephen Kenny recently during Nations League matches.

The 24-year-old has unfortunately suffered another injury set-back which will sidelines him for around three months, in what will surely be a bitter blow to the Scots-born Irishman. It’s a facet of the youngster’s career to date that has just about everyone questioning now whether or not his body is fit and strong enough for the rigours of professional football.

Mikey Johnston of Celtic celebrates as he scores his team’s second goal during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match between Celtic and Hearts at Celtic Park on May 19, 2019 (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Houghton believes that despite this latest injury to the silky wide-man, he should be given one last chance to impress Rodgers on his return to Glasgow’s East End. As reported by The National, he said: “He reminds me of Aiden McGeady when I watch him. He is someone with a bit of ability about him, who is always looking to take players on. He is very positive, he excites you, he gets you on the edge of your seat.

“I know he has had his injury problems and they have probably hampered him over the last two or three years, but he has done well for Ireland. For a lad who has only recently come in to the Ireland set-up, he has fitted in really well. He looks like he is very confident in what he is doing.

19th June 2023 Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Ireland: International Football Group B Euro 2024 Qualifier, Republic of Ireland versus Gibraltar Evan Ferguson of Ireland celebrates scoring his side second goal with Mikey Johnston. Photo ActionPlus Peter Fitzpatrick

“And the Ireland manager Stephen Kenny certainly likes him. That can sometimes be half the battle for a young player. You need someone to back you and he has got that. He came on in Gibraltar in a Euro 2024 qualifier in Dublin last month and made a real difference. France, the Netherlands and Greece only beat Gibraltar 3-0 in qualifying so they weren’t getting massacred by the teams they were playing. We were struggling to break them down.

“But when Mikey came on at the start of the second-half we looked a far better team, much more threatening. He changed things from our point of view. He opened the scoring and we went on to win 3-0. I was impressed. I have seen many players get injury things when they are at a young age over the years. What it does is knock their confidence. I am sure that happened with Mikey. It is such a shame that he has picked up this back injury.

“But being loaned out to Portugal has clearly helped him regain his self-belief. He has worked in a different environment, played in different kind of games against players with a different mentality and experienced a different way of life. None of that is easy to handle and he has.

Mikey Johnston of Celtic celebrates with Anthony Ralston in front of the fans as he scores his team’s first goal during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match between Celtic and Hearts at Celtic Park on May 19, 2019 in . (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

The ex-Liverpool man reckons Rodgers is just the chap to help his career along and eventually get him to reach his potential, if given the opportunity once again. “I hope he gets his chance,” he said. “I have watched quite a bit of Celtic in recent seasons. Their fans like exciting players like Mikey. He can do things that maybe other players can’t.

“I first came across Brendan years ago when he was first coming in to coaching at Chelsea reserves. Brendan is a very good coach. We are quick to judge when a manager doesn’t do well over the course of a season and forget what he has done over a number of seasons. But he was very successful at Celtic in his first spell and did a great job at Leicester. For whatever reason, lack of funding, players being sold, it was much more difficult for him last season. But he can build on what Ange Postecoglou did.

22nd March 2023 Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Ireland: International Football Friendly, Republic of Ireland versus Latvia Mikey Johnston of Ireland brings down a high ball. Photo ActionPlus Peter Fitzpatrick

“Ange did a brilliant job, he was phenomenal. The players really bought into what he was doing and hopefully they will do the same with Brendan again now. It is an exciting time to be a Celtic supporter. I think Brendan likes flair players and I am sure that he will give Mikey a chance. He won’t pre-judge what he can do, will want to see for himself what he is capable of. Once he has done that he will make his call.”

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.


  1. I disagree entirely. There is no doubting Mikey’s ability and talent whatsoever. But he had several opportunities to make it at Celtic and failed every single time. Mikey will only ever be a flash in the pan player, a luxury type in a similar category, though not quite the same level as Aiden McGeady and even Paddy McCourt.
    Mikey has talent in abundance, but is injured far too easily and far too often. He lacks strength. When he first broke through we all knew the talent was there but he needed to bulk up because players like him are targetted.
    As much as we all love the Jinkys of this world, I am of the hobest opinion that Mikey should be moved along. He will never be a legend in Paradise.

  2. I agrée with bothJoe and Daniel and I would add that in my opinion, the boy comes across as selfish, greedy and lazy, He has had plenty of chances and has demonstrated that he is nowhere near good enough for Celtic.
    He wants to be the star, but is not a team player. He needs to go elsewhere.