Does Brendan Have Ready Made First Team Solutions On His Doorstep?

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In recent weeks Brendan Rodgers has repeatedly made known his desire to add up to four players of high quality to his first team options.

With a current squad of 32 players bulging at the seams, quantity is most definitely not the issue at Lennoxtown.

Whether on loan or on a permanent basis a number of players are likely to exit in the forthcoming January window – a window which opens in less than 4 weeks’ time.

Leading the exodus should be the likes of Yuki Kobayashi, James McCarthy and Yosuke Ideguchi – to name just three.

There are many others.

But whilst trimming down the squad will be a key objective for Rodgers and his back room team, could two of those four “quality” additions also be right under his nose already?

Step up Mikey Johnston and Tomoki Iwata.

It’s now over six years since Brendan Rodgers gave Johnston his Celtic debut as an 18 year old – ironically against St Johnstone – back in May 2017.

And though injury has curtailed the young winger’s progress since then, the now Republic of Ireland international provided us with a timely reminder of the quality he undoubtedly possesses on Sunday at McDiarmid Park.

Mikey Johnston Passes The Man Of The Match Award To Callum McGregor
Mikey Johnston Passes The Man Of The Match Award To Callum McGregor

Of course, it’s going to take a lot more than 45 minutes in Perth to convince Rodgers and large sections of the fan base that he has a future at Celtic Park but as witnessed in his post-match interview are we now watching a new, more mature Mikey?

All things being equal he should be given the nod to start against Hibs on Wednesday night (7.45pm, Celtic Park) as he looks to silence the critics and establish himself in the manager’s plans.

The player himself has admitted that this is his “last chance” to do so and this writer for one is fully behind him.

The other player who should join him against the Hibees is Japanese powerhouse Tomoki Iwata.

Like Johnston, Iwata made an impact against St Johnstone with an excellent assist for the killer third goal and must surely now be considered a viable alternative to Callum McGregor. A player who’s crying out for a break.

Whilst performances this season have dipped below his own high standards the skipper remains hugely influential to this Celtic side and all the more reason to keep him fresh for the remaining half dozen or so games we’ll face in December.

Tomo has barely put a foot wrong when given opportunities under both Rodgers and Ange Postecoglou and the former J-League player must now be considered for a rare start against the Easter Road side.

Though not his strong point the recent goal he smashed home against the other team from Edinburgh also shows he has that in his locker when called upon.

So while Brendan Rodgers most certainly has issues in other key areas across the squad – namely at left back and goalkeeper – the solutions to at least some of his problems may already have been there all the while.

Tomorrow’s nights clash with Hibs will tell us whether or not he thinks Johnston and Iwata may be able to provide some of the answers.

Listen to The Countdown To Kick-Off Show now ahead of Wednesday’s Scottish Premiership clash with Hibs.

Celtic v Hibs

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