CELTIC have a lot of players in the developmental system who could and should make the breakthrough into the first team at some point over the next few years.
The club does a lot of work behind the scenes to try and get players in as early as possible to develop them.
We’re seeing the first hand impact of this approach in our first team right now with the likes of Callum McGregor, James Forrest and Mikey Johnston. You can also put Kieran Tierney into that mix as someone who came in and made a real impact in the first team, not to mention the club’s coffers.
So as Celtic look to bring on the next wave of talent, they have a big problem. The game time these lads are getting at youth level is not good enough. Celtic along with many other clubs left the SPFL developmental league last summer, citing it wasn’t fit for purpose, only when they did this, there was no plan B in place.
Right now, we have a good crop of young talent having to play friendlies that are organised the week of and sporadic youth cup games in between. It’s not ideal for development, and it will stunt the growth of some of these stars.
The logical thing would be to loan them out to SPFL sides and lower league teams to get experience. This worked for Kristoffer Ajer with his six months at Kilmarnock helping his development. However, Ewan Henderson, being recalled early from his Ross County loan, shows the other side of the coin. On his day, the young lad could get into this Celtic side but struggled at County.
Celtic have to look at credible ways to bring on their talent going forward, or it could ultimately lead to stifling players.
We have world class facilities, but that’s only half the battle.