ANGE POSTECOGLOU has praised his stand-in Celt James McCarthy after helping the bhoys to a 2-1 win against Aberdeen on Sunday afternoon.
It was McCarthy’s first full 90 minutes for the club since joining from Crystal Palace in the summer. The midfielders spell at Celtic so far has been interrupted by firstly testing positive not long after getting here, then injury.
After that, he’s had to wait for his chance in the team.
Tom Rogic went out injured but Nir Bitton was preferred, then the Israeli succumbed to injury during the Bayer Leverkusen tie – opening the door for James.
Given it was his first 90 minutes, James acquitted himself well. He didn’t set the world alight but it was steady.
Is James’s calling to be a squad player at Celtic or can he push his way into the manager’s thinking?
Bitton and Rogic are due back in the side this week, it will mean the Irish international falls further down the pecking order.
Speaking to CelticTV after the game on Sunday, Ange praised James:
“Nir wasn’t right,” the Celtic manager said. “James did well. It’s his first 90 minutes. He’s obviously had disrupted preparation. I’m really pleased he could get 90 minutes under his belt.
“It’s just a matter of games and opportunity and we haven’t had the opportunity to give him that game time.
“I’m sure he will feel better after that. We are going to need him and need all the lads because we have still got 10 games to go before the break, including a cup final. And every game is important.
“It gives us a little more depth in there.
“Tommy Rogic should be back on Thursday. Nir should be fit. We’ve got a lot of games coming up and it’s good we are getting some depth in the midfield area in particular.”
James was handed a long term deal with the club and will have to dig in if he’s to make it work. Playing in the EPL with sides who are under the cosh for most games will not have helped his transition from the EPL to Celtic.
There’s hope he can make it happen at Celtic but the jury’s still out.