The importance of this summer for Celtic’s David Turnbull

David Turnbull finds himself in a precarious position at Celtic this summer. Having fallen out of the picture under Ange Postecoglou, the 23-year-old will face his fourth pre-season with the club as he looks to impress his third Celtic manager.

The arrival of Odin Thiago Holm may further jeopardise first team football for Turnbull but Brendan Rodgers is reportedly ready to give the team a fresh slate under his management. With one year remaining on his deal, it appears to be a crucial summer for Turnbull as he takes the next step in his career, whether it is at Celtic or elsewhere.

Celtic v Greenock Morton – Scottish Cup – Fourth Round – Celtic’s David Turnbull celebrates Copyright: Jane Barlow

Turnbull made 38 appearances last season with the majority coming from the bench. In that time, he scored 5 goals and made 7 assists in the successful campaign.

Aaron Mooy was a big factor in Turnbull’s game time being limited. Whilst the manager had found a way to balance the games between Reo Hatate, Tom Rogic and Matt O’Riley the season before, it was clear that the preferred midfield three would involve McGregor, Hatate and either O’Riley or Mooy. It was clear whenever Turnbull played that he wasn’t as fluid as the others in the midfield and his best qualities were not able to shine.

19th December 2021; Hampden Park, Glasgow, Scotland; Scottish League Cup final, Hibernian versus Celtic: David Turnbull of Celtic pulls up with an injury as play continues around him

In the 2021/22 season, Turnbull made 45 appearances in which he scored 5 goals and netted 7 assists. Up until the League Cup Final win over Hibs, ‘The Bull’ was a key part of Ange’s team but arrivals from Japan and MK Dons in the form of Hatate and O’Riley pushed Turnbull down the batting order for first team action.

 Celtic assistant manager John Kennedy talks to David Turnbull (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Turnbull’s debut campaign at Celtic was a bit of a slow burner. Neil Lennon looked reluctant to play the youngster he paid Motherwell £3.75m for until after a remarkable performance against Lille in the Europa League. Such was the abject failure of that COVID-plagued season that Turnbull was one of few shining lights. In 42 appearances, he scored 9 goals and chipped in with 8 assists.

It looked as if he would go into the next campaign under new management and kick on but we’ve not really had much to show

Prior to signing for Celtic, Turnbull was wanted by Norwich as his agent looked to push through a move. Lennon was clearly a fan of the player but after Ange had his own players in, the Scotland Internationalist saw first team opportunities increasingly limited. With a potential European Championships next summer, Turnbull will need to be playing regular first team football to get into Stevie Clarke’s reckoning.

Another factor that could see Turnbull stick about is the UEFA regulations on homegrown players, for which the ex-Motherwell midfielder would qualify. James Forrest, Tony Ralston, Scott Bain and James McCarthy are also very important in this regard given that they are unlikely to attain a high amount of minutes but contribute towards the overall compliance with UEFA’s regulations.

Turnbull returned to Lennoxtown this week and will be training hard. For the youngster, he will be keen to make a mark at the club or seek pastures new that allow him to showcases his talents. This summer is crucial for him as it’ll decide whether he is to remain at Celtic or will be moved on in the name of squad evolution.

About Author

Born just as Celtic were stopping the Ten, Lubo98 follows Celtic home and away and helps run his local Celtic Supporters Club. He goes to all the games and is a Law Graduate. Has a particular fondness for Tom Rogic among the current Celts and both Lubo and Henrik form his earliest Celtic memories.


  1. Turnbull will get his chance and must take it and im sure he will injory free he is an assit to the squad

  2. David Potter on

    I hope he stays. A good player with an ability to come up with a goal when we are needing one. Keep him, Brendan!

  3. Niall McLaverty on

    David is a much better player than many of the duds signed by our managers over the last few years. Has done enough to warrant a fair chance under Rodgers. Needs to add more physicality and power to his game. Excellent striker of a ball, two footed and a good passer. Well worth keeping as a Celtic player.