Celtic FC: Five Players to Watch
Despite an embarrassing exit from European competition earlier this season from FC Sion. UEFA helped the Glasgow giants reach the group stages of this seasons UEFA Europa League by knocking the Swiss side out for fielding an ineligible player. But Celtic’s form since then hasn’t got that much better.
Despite finishing the end of last season strongly and bringing in a few recruits in the summer. Manager Neil Lennon and his side have already fallen ten points behind Glasgow rivals Rangers and only a much needed resurgence in form can see Celtic force themselves back into the title race. Europe isn’t the priority for Celtic this season but perhaps it will prove a good distraction considering their current domestic problems.
#1 Charlie Mulgrew
Mulgrew is perhaps the only Celtic player who can hold his head high right now, giving consistent performances since the turn of the calendar year whether it be at his natural position at the left of defense and midfield or more recently at centre-back.
But Mulgrew’s versatility isn’t the only thing thats been going for him. His technical ability with the ball is something Celtic fans haven’t seen since the departure of Nakamura a few years ago. The left-footed Scotsman doesn’t quite have the same level of free-kick ability as the Japanese wizard, but his range of passing certainly helps Celtic turn defense into attack in the blink of an eye.
#2 Ki Sung-Yeung
Celtic’s South Korean import, nicknamed ‘Dave’, got off to a slow start following his transfer from FC Seoul in 2009. But last season Ki established himself in the Celtic startling line-up and has become a regular fixture in the team, even ousting captain Scott Brown from the centre of midfield.
He’s yet to really dominate a big game and is unproven above SPL level but his technical ability is there for all to see. His passing and shooting is certainly worthy of a higher level but his defensive work needs some refinement. Ki has recently been linked with moves to Liverpool and Tottenham and if he’s to fulfill his potential he’ll need to start performing in Celtics more important matches.
#3 Beram Kayal
Kayal in joined during the summer transfer window of 2010 and shone in his debut season. The tough tackling Israeli does most of the defensive duties of Celtics more attack minded midfield and has assumed the Captains role on more than one occasion this term, outlining his importance on the field and in the dressing room.
But like so many in the Celtic team this year he has been affected by a recent dip in form. His recent performance away to Kilmarnock saw him receive severe criticism for the first time since he signed for the club. Like Ki, Kayal is probably destined for a stint in a higher class league but needs to prove himself on a European stage.
#4 Anthony Stokes
After traveling around several clubs in his short career so far Stokes signed for his boyhood club from Sunderland in 2010. The Irishman’s selfishness in front of goal has allowed him to become a lethal threat and one that when paired with Gary Hooper in front of the net guarantees goals.
His work rate has come into question and is often portrayed as the rebel inside Celtics squad, often getting fined for lateness at training. But to say he’s a disruption would be disrespectful.
Lennon rarely uses him in big games but his double last weekend helped Celtic come from 3-0 down to Kilmarnock to snatch a 3-3 draw. Stokes is a hugely influential figure and always gives 110% when he’s out on the pitch and after last weekends performance he must start more high profile games, starting with Rennes this Thursday.
#5 James Forrest
Like Mulgrew, Forrest came through the Celtic youth academy and established himself as a first team fixture during the last few months of the previous season. Forrest’s direct pace has already caused problems for Udinese and Atletico in this season’s Europa League, leading to his inclusion in recent Scotland squads.
The twenty year-old’s natural ability means he’ll be a first team regular at Celtic for a long time to come, if he can improve his overall game naturally through experience and continue on improving his goal scoring he’ll be a fine player at the club.