Mikey Johnston delivered an impressive performance for the Republic of Ireland in their 1-1 draw with New Zealand, earning the Man of the Match award.
However, Johnston has acknowledged that he is still finding his rhythm in terms of match fitness and impact at Celtic.
Despite his standout performance in the international friendly, Johnston has had limited game time with Celtic this season, featuring for less than 25 minutes in the current campaign. He has been absent from Brendan Rodgers’ matchday squads for the last three games, casting doubt over his involvement in the upcoming fixture against Motherwell.
Johnston, in his comments to the Irish Examiner, expressed a mixture of satisfaction with his performance for Ireland and a desire to have contributed more in terms of goals or assists. He enjoyed playing for Ireland and was pleased with the team’s football quality during the match.
“I’ve not had as much game time as I would have liked this year, so I’m trying to make as much of an impact as I can with the fitness I have at the moment,” he told Irish Examiner.
“It could do. I’ve obviously not scored or assisted which is what I wanted to do, but getting Man of the Match is nice.
“I enjoyed myself, and playing in an Ireland shirt, I love it at the moment.
“We played some good football tonight and I enjoyed myself out there.
“Obviously, I was happy to be on the pitch and contribute. I had a bit of fun out there. We wanted to get a positive result, but it wasn’t to be.”
At Celtic, Johnston faces competition for places, with summer signings Luis Palma and Yang Hyun-jun impressing recently, notably in the 6-0 victory over Aberdeen.
With Celtic set to be without Liel Abada and Daizen Maeda in the near future, there could be more chances for Johnston to prove his worth. Luis Palma could also be sidelined, with supporters waiting on an update on his situation.
His recent international display might serve as a reminder to Rodgers of his abilities and potential contribution to the team, especially as Celtic navigates a busy fixture schedule. Johnston’s situation highlights the challenge for players to maintain form and fitness while competing for a place in a talent-rich squad like Celtic’s.