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Celtic must start utilising James McCarthy more often

Ange Postecoglou has had a theatrical start to his life as manager of Celtic football club.

Though, when did a Hoops boss ever have things easy? Controversy and drama was always going to follow this club after the events of last term.

The manager has already publically demanded more from the board, exited the Champions League, qualified for the Europa League and signed 12 first-team players.

Cram an Old Firm derby defeat in there, Dominic McKay’s resignation and an injury to Kyogo Furuhashi and things don’t look as positive anymore.

On the chalkboard

What Celtic could do with now is calm heads.

Controversy is enshrouding the boardroom again and Postecoglou can’t afford to let that distract events on the playing field.

Callum McGregor, the club captain, will be key to keeping the peace but so will James McCarthy.

The Republic of Ireland international was in the Celtic academy as a youngster but has had to wait until he’s 30 to earn his Hoops debut.

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It has been a long time coming for the midfielder who has enjoyed a successful career in England with Wigan, Everton and Crystal Palace before coming home to Paradise.

A lack of match fitness has stopped him from starting a match yet but he is now beginning to appear in Postecoglou’s plans.

He made his debut against Hearts in the League Cup and then earned his first taste of Premiership action for Celtic versus Ross County last weekend.

McCarthy joins what is a healthy area in the middle of the park. Scott Brown may have left but he is still battling the skipper, Ismaila Soro, David Turnbull and Tom Rogic for a place in the team.

He is not going to usurp McGregor or Turnbull anytime soon but one man he certainly deserves to leapfrog in the pecking order is Soro.

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The Ivorian has long been thought of as Brown’s successor but as his early form this term will tell you, he lacks basic positioning and discipline.

Those are two virtues that McCarthy certainly doesn’t lack. Described as “top-class” by Postecoglou after his arrival, it’s only a matter of time before he becomes a key cog in the Celtic wheel.

The £2.7m-rated general completed 2.5 tackles per game during his final campaign as a regular at Palace in 2019/20. That happens to be more than any other midfielder at Celtic this season and it’s also more than any Parkhead player managed during the 2020/21 term.

On that evidence, not only is he better defensively than Soro but he can also offer extra qualities to this Celtic team that’s currently missing.

Postecoglou must start unleashing him on a regular basis in the coming weeks.

AND in other news, Ange could discover Celtic’s new Christie by signing £6.3m-rated “top player” in Jan…

Article title: Celtic must start utilising James McCarthy more often

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