The long road to fitness started in Austria last night as Celtic gave an outing to 19 players against Wiener Viktoria. This time of year always provides an interesting angle on the young talent waiting to breakthrough, often to be overlooked until the following year’s preseason tour.
Last night 19-year-olds Johnny Kenny, who joined in January from Sligo Rovers, and Bosan Lawal, who joined a year ago from the Watford youth setup, did most to pique interest. Let’s hope Kenny can fight off the fierce competition from Albian Ajeti for the third striker spot. Having only just turned 17, Rocco Vata seems worth keeping tabs on.
Getting to the point in their career that they are making a Celtic debut is a huge achievement for Kenny, Lawal, Vata and Matthew Anderson, the 18-year-old full back who played last night. The fallout rate of signed youth players before this point must be close to 99%.
The challenge ahead, to become a Celtic regular, remains daunting. It is as much a challenge for the coaches as the players.