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Celtic must use James McCarthy

Ange Postecoglou got off to a theatrical start in life as the manager of the Celtic football club.

But when did it ever be easy for a Hoops boss? Controversy and drama would always haunt this club after the events of last season.

The manager has already publicly demanded more from the board, leaving the Champions League, qualifying for the Europa League and signing 12 first-team players.

Wrap up an Old Firm Derby defeat, Dominic McKay’s resignation, and Kyogo Furuhashi injury and things don’t look so good anymore.

On the blackboard

What Celtic could do now are calm minds.

Controversies are once again shrouding the boardroom and Postecoglou cannot afford to let the events on the field distract from it.

Callum McGregor, the club’s captain, will be the key to keeping the peace, but so will James McCarthy.

The Republic of Ireland international was a youngster in the Celtic Academy but had to wait until he was 30 to make his Hoops debut.

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It was a long time before the midfielder had a successful career in England at Wigan, Everton and Crystal Palace before returning to Paradise.

A lack of gaming fitness still kept him from starting a game, but he’s now starting to show up in Postecoglou’s plans.

He made his League Cup debut against Hearts, then got his first taste of Premiership action for Celtic against Ross County last weekend.

McCarthy joins a healthy area in the middle of the park. Scott Brown may have left, but he’s still battling skipper Ismaila Soro, David Turnbull and Tom Rogic for a place on the team.

He’s not going to take over McGregor or Turnbull anytime soon, but one man he certainly deserves to skip the pecking order is Soro.

Guess the shirt numbers of Celtic’s famous 2002/03 UEFA Cup team. Let’s start with Mohammed Sylla …

The Ivorian was long considered to be Brown’s successor, but as his early form during that term will show, he lacks basic positioning and discipline.

These are two virtues that McCarthy certainly does not lack. Described by Postecoglou as “high class” after his arrival, it is only a matter of time before it becomes the key wheel in the Celtic wheel.

Valued at £ 2.7million, the general completed 2.5 tackles per game during his last campaign as a regular at the Palace 2019/20. That’s more than any other midfielder at Celtic this season and more than any Parkhead player did in the 2020/21 season.

In this way he is not only better defensively than Soro, but he can also offer additional qualities to this Celtic team that is currently lacking.

Postecoglou will have to unleash him regularly in the coming weeks.

AND in other news, Ange could discover Celtic’s new Christie by signing a £ 6.3million top player in January …

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