MIKEY JOHNSTON was featured in The Celtic Star last July when we predicted that last season would be his breakthrough year for a young player who is now on the threshold of becoming a regular starter in Neil Lennon’s side.
There is an iconic Celtic photograph of Emilio Izaguirre being substituted and replaced by the youngest Kieran Tierney – both players in their own way have become a huge party of the Celtic story.
And while we’re talking about KT, chances are he’ll NOT be leaving this summer – certainly if he’s got anything to do with it.
Arsenal’s interest has stalled, the player is apparently saying privately to friends and family that he is in no hurry to leave Celtic so unless his hand is forced by Arsenal meeting Celtic’s price of offers over £25million, then he’ll remain, quite happily, at Celtic.
It’s a mirror image of the situation from last summer when Everton were interested but not were not prepared to pay the fee. There was no player agitation to go then, nor is there now. Indeed the contrary appears to be the case. KT, here for 9IAR, at least. The English window closes early next month – can’t wait!
There may not be a similar iconic image of Mikey Johnston coming on to replace Scotty Sinclair but we are seeing that process get underway. Of course both players scored in Sarajevo on Tuesday night, Johnston with a thundering shot for a crucial equaliser and Sinclair with a cute and clever back-heeler which he’s used to great effect previously – ask Derek McInnes.
Scotty Sinclair expected his contract at Celtic recently. His stats at Celtic have been at Larssoneque levels, yet he seems to be one of those players that some of the harder to please in our support are happy to jump upon. An error from KT results in an awkward moment, with the insults and abuse becalmed by the realisation that it is the fans’ favourite who has messed up. Had that been Scotty Sinclair or James Forrest, they would have heard about it.
Mikey Johnston has had to learn the hard way, especially at Ibrox. There were two managers at Celtic last season and each of them dealt the youngster a short straw. Rodgers reckoned that the youngster could lead the line, a position Rodgers found himself in after his two-faced behaviour towards the mild mannered Moussa Dembele blew up in his face.
Then Neil Lennon tried to utilise Johnston as some sort of wing back to provide cover for the veteran Mikael Lustig at right back (remember them, we used to have some ourselves). It unravelled within the first few minutes.
Confidence could have been shattered by those two bruising occasions but Johnston bounced back admirably and scored his most important goal so far in a Celtic jersey in Sarajevo on Tuesday night.
Speaking to the official Celtic website today, young Mikey looked back on his Champions League exploits in the Bosnian capital.
“My goal was alright! I got a bit of space and thankfully it’s found its way in. I feel like I’m getting fitter, I felt a little tight in my thigh over the course of the game, but hopefully that isn’t anything serious.
“The boys were excellent, we dug deep and I’m delighted we managed to get the result. The game went pretty well for me, I’m feeling pretty fit, and I can hopefully continue to get opportunities and keep performing.
“I think there was a bit of pressure on us when Sarajevo scored the opener, and they were pretty handy on the counter-attack. But I felt overall that we had a lot more quality over them, and that showed in the second-half especially.
“The pitch was tough, it was hard to play on, but that was the conditions which were in front of us. We’re quite confident going into the second leg now.
“Obviously we now go to Celtic Park and that’s harder for them, so hopefully we can get it finished off. Getting a goal in the first game is really good and so is getting the result we needed. To win away in Europe, whatever round, is a good result.”