CAMERON CARTER-VICKERS was walking with the aid of crutches this time last year after going under the knife.

Celtic’s rock-solid centre-back played in the Scottish Cup semi-final victory over Ibrox opposition on April 30 when Filipe Jota headed in the only goal of the tie to set up a historic conclusion to the season.

Carter-Vickers, who was forced to undergo a knee operation, missed the remaining six games of the campaign, including the 2-0 title-clinching win over Hearts at Tynecastle and the 3-1 triumph over Inverness Caley Thistle at Hampden on June 3 when the Hoops became the first team in the world to claim eight domestic trebles.

It’s fair to say the 26-year-old American World Cup defender is making up for lost time.

RISE AND SHINE…Cameron Carter-Vickers outjumps Killie frontman Marley Watkins to head clear.

The back-four operator was an unsung hero in the 5-0 success over Kilmarnock at Rugby Park in midweek which clinched the team’s third successive Premiership silverware.

The spotlight fell on midfield master Matt O’Riley as he strutted through his 74 minutes on the plastic pitch before being replaced by Paulo Bernardo.

It was impossible not to praise the London-born Danish international playmaker and his whizzbang effort for the fourth goal will live long in the memory.

In the background, though, Carter-Vickers got on with taking care business in his first outing in Ayrshire after sitting out his side’s 1-0 League Cup exit in August and the 2-1 Premiership defeat in December.

POWER STRUGGLE…Cameron Carter-Vickers tussles with Killie striker Kyle Vassell in a battle for possession.

Kyle Vassell played for Killie in both matches, facing Maik Nawrocki and Gustaf Lagerbielke in the first meeting and then Liam Scales and Nat Phillips in the second.

The powerhouse frontman unsettled both defensive partnerships with his rummel-’em-up brand of play where he basically bullied his opponents into submission.

On-loan Liverpool pivot Phillips was reduced to a bag of nerves long before the end of the league setback which contributed to his panic-stricken own goal to throw the hosts a lifeline with their equaliser 15 minutes from time.

He was nowhere to be seen when Matty Kennedy snatched the winner three minutes from the end. His Celtic career ended there and then with any chance of a loan extension obliterated in the rubble of a dreadful individual display.

Carter-Vickers went toe to toe with Vassell on Wednesday and the home side’s captain and attacking lynch pin was so ineffective against his formidable opponent that he was withdrawn at the interval.

SUPPORT ACT…Cameron Carter-Vickers and Tomoki Iwata carry Nicolas Kuhn shoulder high as they celebrate Celtic’s third successive title triumph at Rugby Park.

The rugged Hoops star, under contract until June 2029, won every 50/50 duel with Vassell, in the air and on the ground, to nullify any attacking threat from Derek McInnes’ team.

It’s not eye-catching stuff and it won’t make the headlines, but it is the platform from which his team-mates can concentrate on getting the business done at the other end.

Adam Idah, Daizen Maeda, James Forrest and two-goal O’Riley hit the strikes that mattered and the champions can now look forward to another Flag Day in Paradise when St Mirren provide the opposition tomorrow afternoon.

Then it’s all eyes on the Scottish Cup Final showpiece against Philippe Clement’s Ibrox side at the national stadium on the iconic date of May 25.

Carter-Vickers will once again stand up to be counted.

And that’s bound to be bad news for Cyriel Dessers and Co.

Click Here for Comments >

About Author