Celtic might find themselves fortunate as they clinched an edgy 2-1 win against Aberdeen to keep pace with Rangers in the title race. A Dons’ clearances hit skipper Callum McGregor before ending up into the back of the net and the bizarre goal around the hour mark proved to be the decider in this engaging contest. Having said that, Ange Postecoglou must be proud of his men who stepped in and delivered amid the injury absence of key personnel.
James McCarthy is one such name who completed a free transfer during the summer window. Despite being a renowned figure in the English circuit for his spells at Wigan, Everton and Crystal Palace, the Irishman played limited football in recent months due to form and fitness concerns. Yet the Hoops handed him a lucrative four-year deal based on his reputation in the Premier League.
Has He Done Enough To Cement A Starting Role In Celtic Midfield?
While he could have been a like-for-like replacement for Scott Brown in the centre of the pitch, the injury woes continued for the 31-year-old who only bagged his first 90 minutes on Sunday afternoon in Celtic colours. He has been behind McGregor and Nir Bitton in the pecking order, however, an injury to the latter and Tom Rogic turned out to be a blessing in disguise for the Republic of Ireland international. McGregor was shifted to a more advanced role following Rogic’s hamstring strain, whereas Bitton’s forced exit against Bayer Leverkusen offered McCarthy a lifeline to make it work at Parkhead.
And he did not disappoint versus Aberdeen from the base of a three-man midfield. Not only did he marshal the backline but also orchestrated the show with his vision, distribution and technicality. Postecoglou hopes to have him available for selection given the fixture congestion and his teammate David Turnbull heaped praise in a post-match interview (as quoted by the Scottish Sun) hailing his impact in the middle of the park.
“He was excellent, that was his first 90 in however long. He was brilliant and showed his quality for the second goal, a nice wee chop and a great through ball for Liel, and he showed that throughout the full game how good he can be.
The manager, meanwhile, expects to have Rogic and Bitton back for the midweek encounter. This would jeopardize McCarthy’s starting status for the time being, but his display against the Dons should see him featuring more often from now on overcoming initial jitters.