One of the most exciting things for Celtic fans in the wake of Brendan Rodgers’ appointment is the prospect of him developing Celtic’s young talent.
Rodgers has a long, storied history working at youth level, both at Chelsea and Reading, identifying talent and progressing them as players. As a first-team manager too he’s often given young players their big break.
Celtic have a number of ambitious young players, either established in the first-team or just breaking through, that have the chance to really stake a claim at making a career at the Bhoys.
Here are FIVE Celtic youngsters that could shine in the coming campaign…
Just last year Jack Aitchison was playing U-15s football while still attending school. Only turning full-time in February, he ended season 2015/16 scoring at Celtic Park for the first team in front of one of the biggest crowds of the season.
It’s been a meteoric rise for the young striker but his instinct and finishing ability in that game against Motherwell showed why he was given the opportunity to become Celtic’s youngest ever player and youngest ever goalscorer.
Before all of that happened he was given a 3-year contract with the club and now has the room and the confidence to grow as a footballer.
The coming season could be even better for the youngster and fans are no doubt eager to see what else he can offer.
Young right-back Anthony Ralston showed great determination and spirit this season in his bid to break through to the Celtic first team.
After gaining vital first team experience at Queen’s Park earlier in the campaign, including scoring the above winning goal, he returned to Celtic only to suffer two back-to-back injuries.
Working hard to make an impact, he was awarded with his debut for the club against St Johnstone in the penultimate game of the league season.
Further faith was shown just this Monday when he was given a 3-year contract, ensuring that he’ll have a chance to impress new manager Brendan Rodgers and compete with Mikael Lustig & Saidy Janko for a starting position.
Aidan Nesbitt is one of the most exciting prospects coming through the Celtic Youth Academy currently. The attacking midfielder made his first team debut back in September, coming off the bench in a League Cup match against Raith Rovers.
He would have undoubtedly made more appearances were it not for the fact he was given an opportunity to get regular Scottish Premiership football under his belt on loan at Partick Thistle. He impressed at Thistle in a number of games including a man of the match performance on his debut against St Johnstone.
His stellar campaign was capped off when he was awarded Celtic’s Academy Player of the Year award in May. With his contract at the club extended by 3 and a half years in October and at 19-years old, he is potentially better placed than any other non-established youngster to make his mark in Brendan Rodgers’ team.
Yet another young player to sign a 3-year contract last season, Calvin Miller will be hoping he can impress Brendan Rodgers enough this summer to be included in matchday squads on a regular basis.
He’s certainly aware of the opportunity, telling CelticFC.net: “I have heard the new manager say that he is big on youth and wants to bring through players, so hopefully I can do that in pre-season.”
The 18-year old attacker was a vital part of Celtic’s Development Side that went the entire 2015/16 league season unbeaten, a phenomenal achievement at any level. He’s the only one of our five yet to make his first team competitive debut and that will surely be an aim for the youngster over the next 12 months.
Last but certainly not least is Kieran Tierney. Everyone knows about the young left-back by now and we took an extended look at him in our feature last month.
We’re including him here because he’s the prototype for the four previous players in this gallery. He’s proof than any of them can make the breakthrough and impress in the first team on a regular basis.
Like all of them he signed a new contract with the club last season, the first of the five to do so. Like all of them he featured extensively for Celtic’s Development Squad. Like all of them he’s a tireless worker with a great attitude.
He has more to offer too and, like all of them, has the chance under Brendan Rodgers to fully realise his potential in the coming season.