LOAN Bhoy Mikey Johnston is hoping it’s green for go to make his first start for the Republic of Ireland against France in Dublin tonight.

The Celtic winger made a huge impact when he came on as a 64th-minute substitute last week to inspire his adopted nation to a 3-2 victory over Latvia in the friendly at the Aviva Stadium.

Now 23-year-old Johnston, who agreed a temporary switch to Portuguese outfit Vitoria Guimaeres in the summer, is eager to play his part against the World Cup runners-up in the opening Euro 24 qualifying encounter.

IN THE GREEN…Mikey Johnston is all smiles as he makes his debut for the Republic of Ireland against Latvia.

Didier Deschamps’ side are on a high following their 4-0 rout of the Netherlands and the international head coach singled out teenage striker Evan Ferguson, a goalscorer in midweek, and the Parkhead touchline star who switched his allegiance after playing five times for the Scotland Under-21 side.

The French boss, speaking to the Irish Independent, said: “There is a new generation with new players, Ferguson poses a threat – he is a good player, Johnston, as well, has joined the team, it is a mix of young and experience.

“But our team is different, too. Ireland are known for being direct and vertical in how they play, but of what I’ve seen in recent games they are capable of playing the ball along the ground as well.”

Irish gaffer Stephen Kenny called on his squad to mix “fire and ice” to cope with the French.

IN THE HOOPS…Mikey Johnston in action for Celtic last season.

The one-time Dunfermline coach added: “It’s an electric night, they [the Irish crowd]don’t need a rallying call from me.

“They understand the traditions of Ireland and France, the connection with the players and the supporters – you can feel it growing, it’s very powerful. It will be a special occasion, a huge challenge, there’s no doubt about that.”

Kenny has a couple of injury concerns to address before he names his starting line-up, but Johnston, who will return to the Hoops in June, is desperate to get the go-ahead to make an appearance from the kick-off.

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