JAMES McCARTHY is determined to celebrate an early birthday by showing what he can do in the Celtic first team.

The 42 times-capped Republic of Ireland international midfielder at long last signed for his boyhood favourites after quitting Crystal Palace at the end of his contract in the summer.

McCarthy has had a false start to his career at Parkhead and has managed to make only two line-ups at the kick-off from his eight appearances.

The cultured anchorman will celebrate his 31st birthday next month and is eyeing a return to the Hoops squad on a consistent basis after a series of niggling injuries have halted his progress.

PLAYING FOR THE JERSEY…that’s the hope of James McCarthy who joined his boyhood favourites in the summer.

The Glaswegian is unlikely to start against Hibs at Easter Road tonight and a more likely option may be the home match against Livingston on Saturday which would give him the opportunity to exact revenge – one of his two starts was in the 1-0 loss at Livingston last month.

Ange Postecoglou is refusing to rush the former Hamilton Accies, Wigan and Everton star until he believes he will be comfortable with the rigours of 90 minutes in the top side.

The Celtic boss, speaking to the Scottish Sun, admitted: “James McCarthy is training well. It’s just a matter of finding the right opportunity for him.”

The player agreed a four-year contract at the start of August and is determined to make his mark at the club closest to his heart.

McCarthy – and the Celtic support – will have to be patient before his influence becomes obvious.

*DON’T miss the unbeatable match report from Hibs v Celtic this evening – only in your champion CQN.


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