MIKEY JOHNSTON has yet to kick a first-team ball for Celtic since his summer return from Portugal.

The 24-year-old winger spent the previous campaign on loan at top-fight Vitoria Guimaraes and his hopes of impressing Brendan Rodgers suffered a setback when he was injured in pre-season training.

However, the forgotten Celt sent a reminder to the Hoops boss when he netted in the Republic of Ireland’s 4-0 win over Gibraltar in Faro as they brought down the curtain of their failed European Championship 2024 bid last night.

ON TARGET…Mikey Johnston celebrates his strike for the Republic of Ireland against Gibraltar.

Stephen Kenny’s side lost 2-0 to Greece in Dublin on Friday night with former Parkhead ace Giorgos Giakoumakis scoring one of the goals on Liam Scales’ debut for his country. That defeat cost the Irish the opportunity of joining Scotland in the soccer showpiece in Germany next summer.

Former Scotland Under-21 prospect Johnston claimed his second international goal for his adopted nation and said: “It was my first start this season, so I was feeling a bit rusty.

“I was buzzing to get going again.

”Greece was a tough result to take and we felt as we had to give the fans something back.”

Johnston netted following a freakish ricochet and, speaking to The Irish Examiner, admitted: “I’ve not scored the nicest goals for Ireland, but, hopefully, there are many more to come.”

The Glasgow-born flanker also thanked under-fire gaffer Kenny and added: “Personally, he has been great for me. He has put me back in the squad even though I haven’t played much football.

NET PROFIT…Mikey Johnston slides in to score after his original shot had struck the woodwork.

“He trusts me and put me back in and I repaid him by getting a goal on this occasion.

“It has been a really frustrating seven or eight months for me.

“I am really happy to be back with the boys. Back in the goals and that’s what I love to do, score or create in the final third.”

Filipe Jota opened a space in the squad when he left in his £25million move to Saudi Arabia in June and the champions have brought in wide Bhoys such as Honduran Luis Palma, South Korean Yang Hyun-jun and Australian Marco Tilio to their pool.

Liel Abada will also miss the remainder of this year, so there may yet be a chance for Johnston, who was introduced to the Celtic first team by Rodgers in May 2017, to convince the Hoops gaffer he is worth a try as the season unfolds.

Scales picked up his second cap as he coasted through the encounter and is expected to continue in the champions’ rearguard alongside Cameron Carter-Vickers when the Premiership resumes against Hearts at Tynecastle on Sunday.

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