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  • McCart: still hope for young Celts who have left the club

    McCart: still hope for young Celts who have left the club

    By: Mark Henderson on 20 Jun, 2017 09:28

  • CELTIC’S Head of Youth Chris McCart says the pathway to Paradise isn’t over for the young players who have left the club in the summer.

    Eoghan O’Connell, Theo Archibald and Josh Kerr have been sold to Bury, Brentford and Brighton respectively, while Fiacre Kelleher has joined Oxford United.

    And Aidan McIlduff, Shaun Bowers, Brandon Payne, Connor McManus and Luke Donnelly have all departed the club. Praising their efforts during the time in the Celtic Youth Academy, Chris McCart explained the reasons behind their exit to the official Celtic website.

    “They have all been very committed and dedicated and they have all played a large part in the success of the young squad,” said McCart in an exclusive interview.

    “Some of them have been out on loan for the latter stages of their development, but there comes a point when you have to compare them to first-team players and if they will get an opportunity at Celtic. If they aren’t, then to be fair to them, they need to be given a different pathway.

    “Charlie Mulgrew came up through Celtic and he had to go different way, but after four or five years he ended up coming back to Celtic. Sometimes that is the pathway. They can’t all be James Forrest or Kieran Tierney who go straight from the Academy to the first-team.

    “Callum McGregor took a different pathway in that he came through the Academy and went on loan to Notts County and then came back. We see the Kieran Tierney and Callum McGregor routes as the two options, but sometimes they have to leave Celtic and grow and develop and then hopefully one day the can come back.

    “Not everyone can take the perfect route as James and Kieran and they have to go and test themselves like Callum or go down a more difficult pathway like Charlie Mulgrew, but if they keep progressing, they can get back to the standard of Celtic.

    “The standards are so high here with the first-team: they have to be Champions League footballers, play in a winning side every week, play a certain type of football and play under that pressure of taking the ball, producing and entertaining the fans.

    “There are many different pathways, but even for those who have left, we want to make sure one day they can come back Celtic and hopefully the grounding they got here will afford them that opportunity.”

    Despite the departures, the majority of last season’s Development Squad remain in place from last season, including Mark Hill and Michael Johnston, who both signed new contracts towards the end of the season.

    Following in the footsteps of James Forrest, Callum McGregor, Kieran Tierney and Liam Henderson and cementing their place in the first-team squad will be aim of all the young Celts over the next 12 months.

    “A strong nucleus is there,” said McCart. “We signed up Michael Johnston and Mark Hill and we have two excellent young goalkeepers in Conor Hazard and Ross Doohan, while there is a sprinkling of players throughout the Development Squad who have had the odd game with the first-team and hopefully they can go and build on that this year - the likes of Michael Johnston, Anthony Ralston, Calvin Miller, the goalkeepers I have mentioned, and Jack Aitchison.

    “You just hope the players can come through, keep working hard and meet the challenge. It’s a big challenge to go and stay in there but the rewards are there for them, and there are the great examples of Kieran, James, Callum and Liam who have got to that level.

    “They need to make sure they don’t take their eye off it in the sense of their development and continue to look at the bigger picture. It’s such a high ask to play for Celtic’s first-team that they can’t lose time with their development. They must stay committed and take responsibility for their development and hopefully they get their rewards for that.”

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