This article is part of Football FanCast’s In The Pipeline series, which takes a look at some of the most promising young talent either linked with clubs or emerging from their academies…
Celtic signed winger Armstrong Oko-Flex on a three-year deal from Arsenal last summer and after a season of progress in the club’s youth and reserve teams, the 17-year-old is now looking to impress manager Neil Lennon and win a place in his first-team squad.
The teenager was one of the noted stand-outs during Wednesday’s win over Austrian minnows SC Pinkafeld, getting himself on the scoresheet and showing the kind of movement, awareness and close ball control that demonstrates he has real potential and a bright future in the game.
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He has not yet made his competitive debut for the club, but has appeared on the bench for the senior side on two occasions now, away to Kilmarnock in February and at home to Hearts on the last day of the 2018/19 league season.
The youngster has recently spoken about adjusting to life training with the first-team squad, revealing that the close attention paid to him by coaches such as Lennon and Damien Duff is helping him improve, with a senior debut in his sights.
Speaking to the official Celtic website, Oko-Flex said:
“It’s great having strong, experienced characters like the gaffer and Damien Duff on the training pitch. The gaffer is really good at encouraging us, and sometimes he expects more. If you make a loose pass, he’ll be on to you right away, which is good. He doesn’t let little things slide, which is really good, especially for us younger ones who are always learning.
“After featuring on the bench last year, I’m even more hungry for it now. There’s a lot of competition in the first-team squad, which is good, and that’s even more motivation for me to work harder and show the manager that I can play for the Celtic first-team.
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Karamoko Dembele and Ewan Henderson have taken to the spotlight as academy graduates in and around the first-team over the last few months, with both of them given game time under Lennon towards the end of last season.
Oko-Flex though can be the next player to generate a bit of hype of his own as he closes in on that competitive debut he clearly desires.
If he can continue to impress in pre-season as he has done so far, then he won’t be far away at all.