JAMES McCARTHY has yet to start a game for Celtic this season and has figured in just 62 minutes of action.

The 32-year-old Republic of Ireland international midfielder was one of the club’s first signings after the arrival of Ange Postecoglou in June 2021. He was recruited on August 3 after quitting Crystal Palace at the end of his contract.

Glasgow-born McCarthy agreed a four-year deal with his boyhood favourites and has terms until June 2025.

IN THE BACKGROUND…James McCarthy sits it out behind manager Ange Postecoglou at Ibrox.

His last first-team sighting was as a substitute in the dramatic 2-1 win over St Johnstone in Perth on October 8 when he was instrumental in setting up the stoppage-time winner for Giorgos Giakoumakis.

McCarthy last figured in a match day squad on November 2 when he was an unused substitute in the 5-1 Champions League loss to Real Madrid in the Bernabeu. Since then, puzzlingly, there has been no sign of the player.

Admittedly, he has suffered with hamstring issues, but he has been seen in training at Lennoxtown in recent times although he is clearly not in the manager’s plans.

All in, he has made a mere five appearances in this campaign.

In the league, he had an eight-minute outing in the win at McDiarmid Park and had another 14 minutes the following weekend in the 6-1 romp against Hibs at Parkhead.

There have been two games in the League Cup – 14 minutes in the 4-1 success over Ross County in Dingwall on August 31 and 18 minutes in the 4-0 win over Motherwell at Fir Park on October 19.

McCarthy clocked up eight minutes in the 3-1 Champions League defeat to RB Leipzig in Germany on October 5.

READY TO GO…James McCarthy chats to Carl Starfelt as he prepares to go through a training routine at Lennoxtown as the Hoops prepare for last weekend’s match against Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.

In January, Postecoglou revitalised his midfield options when he brought in J-League Player of the Year Tomoki Iwata and scrapped the loan deal for towering Dane Oliver Abildgaard. Yosuke Ideguchi also left the following month on a temporary transfer to Japan.

However, there appears no place for McCarthy in one of the rare pieces of transfer business that hasn’t sparked since Postecoglou ushered in a new era in the east end of Glasgow.

The 42 times-capped middle-of-the-park operator’s languid style clearly isn’t a good fit in the high-intensity approach demanded by the Greek-Australian.

It’s a bit of a mystery he was signed in the first place, but the answer could well lie in the summer transfer market with a loan or permanent shift offering game time to McCarthy.

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