Celtic might have suffered a setback in the Champions League qualifiers, but their league form so far has been astounding having notched 15 goals in 3 outings. They are likely to rope in a few more names before next Monday’s transfer deadline. However, the progress made by some over the summer has boosted Neil Lennon in terms of depth as well as quality. The gaffer has hailed the influence of Damien Duff for the same following his promotion as the Hoops’ first-team coach since Lennon’s appointment.
The former Republic of Ireland international is still adored for his glittering playing days with Blackburn Rovers, Chelsea, Newcastle United and Fulham. But he is now focusing on developing the young wingers at Parkhead, and the recent upsurge of Michael Johnston is one of the reasons why Duff has made a substantial impact on the training ground thus far.
“He works with Damien most days and he’s quite tough on him, but he responds in the right way. When I say Damien is hard, what I mean is they go over the clips and it’s really impressive to watch because Damien was a great player himself.”
Stated Lennon (as cited by the Scottish Sun) highlighting the lively start made by Johnston after featuring as a fringe player last season.
How He Has Fared So Far This Term
The homegrown prodigy was a part of Brendan Rodgers’ set-up for a while. But his role was not specified due to the abundance of options in the attacking third and the youngster was deployed in several slots mostly as a sporadic choice.
He featured as a midfield attacker, False 9, second striker and also down the wide areas where he excelled of late. The 20-year-old is now being utilised as an outright winger and has earned a starting role over the veteran Scott Sinclair on the left-hand flank.
What To Expect From Johnston Going Forward
Lennon prefers to work with young talents, and therefore, deserves plaudits for the emergence of Johnston. He has notched three goals and laid on three more in 8 appearances so far this campaign and exhibited more directness, work rate and bravery in his game over fancy skills and swift movements.
He has put his pace to use with intelligence and developed physically to cope with the aggressiveness of Scottish football. The attacker must now concentrate on performing consistently to cement his place and serve his boyhood club for years to come.
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