Having been ruled out of action for the vast majority of the current campaign due to a shoulder injury, Celtic left-back Greg Taylor was something of a surprise inclusion in Ange Postecoglou’s starting XI against Dundee United on Sunday.
And, despite having not played a minute of competitive football since the beginning of September, the 24-year-old turned in a performance of the highest quality at Tannadice, demonstrating just how much Celtic have missed having a natural left-back in position so far this season.
Indeed, over his 75 minutes on the pitch against Dundee United, the £1.8m-rated man was extremely solid at the back, making four clearances, two interceptions, two tackles, winning seven of his nine duels – a success rate of 78% – and helping his side keep a clean sheet.
The Scotland international also impressed going forwards, enjoying 109 touches of the ball, completing 65 passes – three of which were key – two long balls and one cross, as well as having two shots at the Dundee United goal.
These returns saw the left-back who James McFadden dubbed a “brilliant” player earn a very eye-catching SofaScore match rating of 7.7, an incredibly impressive feat considering it was his first fixture back after a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
His performance also drew considerable praise from The Athletic’s Kieran Devlin, who stated of the defender’s display: “Would also add that Taylor was really good today. Makes a world of difference having a natural left-back, and even if his final ball wasn’t there today some of his movement and one-touch passing was great. Having two correct-footed full-backs makes such a difference to this team’s width.”
Indeed, as a result of Taylor’s injury, Postecoglou has been left considerably short of options at left-back so far this season, often fielding right-back Josip Juranovic out of position on the opposite flank.
However, the 24-year-old’s return to first-team football will now provide the Bhoys boss with a great deal more balance in his defence, something that can only be a positive for the Hoops chances of going on to reclaim the Premiership title come next May.
And, while Tom Rogic may steal the headlines for his spectacular solo goal on Sunday, the game-running performance of Taylor will more than likely be the much bigger positive for Postecoglou when reflecting on Celtic’s 3-0 win later on this evening.