Who is Scottish football’s next big thing? Who could be the next James McFadden or Andy Robertson? Here at Youth Football Scotland we’re casting our eye over the main SPFL teams to find just who’s on the cusp of breaking out, as the kick off to the 2017-18 league season edges ever closer.
Next up, Celtic. The Hoops have recruited relatively modestly in the Summer transfer window, but have lost cover in areas that could see chances open up for youth players. With James Forrest, Callum McGregor, and Kieran Tierney the big names to have come out of the Hoops academy in recent years, here’s who could follow suit.
The departure of fan-favourite Emilio Izaguirre left a gaping hole for cover in Celtic’s left-back position. Whilst Kieran Tierney will have that shirt for the foreseeable future, there is a strong chance that should anything happen to him, responsibility will fall on the shoulders of 18-year-old Calvin Miller.
The youngster was born in Castlemilk on 9th January 1998, and played primarily as a left-winger growing up. Miller had several training days at Rangers before signing for Celtic, where he was an integral part of Tommy McIntyre’s Under-20 side that went unbeaten during the 2015-16 campaign. He has also been capped for Scotland at under-15, under-16, and under-17 age levels.
Rodgers came into the club and immediately set about evolving Miller into a left-back. He has since excelled in his two appearances for the first-team so far – victories over Partick Thistle and Kilmarnock. He’s also starred for Celtic’s Under-20s in the NextGen Series and UEFA Youth League, and uses his pace and skill to get up and down the left wing with ease.
Rodgers said: “He needs time to learn that position and role but he’s got some outstanding qualities and can offer the club something going forward.”
Anthony Ralston has been touted as the successor to Mikael Lustig, with three Celtic appearances to his name already and one terrific goal against Kilmarnock.
The 18-year-old was born in Glasgow on November 16th 1998, growing up in Uddingston, and has been compared to Kieran Tierney due to his emergence and similar style of play. Ralston signed for Celtic at the age of eight and has since developed a modern style of play to his right-back role. The academy graduate is known for bombing down the right-hand side and overlapping the winger, but he’s also strong in the challenge and can defend strongly when on the back foot.
Ralston enjoyed an education on loan at Queen’s Park when he was just 16 for six months, where he impressed Gus MacPherson before being called back to the club.
He suffered from knocks that halted his development between January and May 2016, but it was May in which he made his Celtic debut in a 2-1 win at St Johnstone. He has since made two more appearances in victories over St Johnstone again and Kilmarnock – the latter seeing him open his scoring account for the club with a powerful header.
Towards the end of last season, Rodgers said about the 18-year-old: “I took him away with me in pre-season and I liked what I saw. He’s strong, aggressive and can defend, but, vitally, he can pass the ball. He has good mobility and he’s a hardy boy.”