Brighton & Hove Albion assistant manager Billy Reid has delivered a promising verdict on what could be to come from Celtic midfielder James McCarthy.
The lowdown: First-year struggles
Having amassed 272 Premier League appearances south of the border across spells with Everton and Crystal Palace, the capture of McCarthy appeared to be a masterstroke from Ange Postecoglou as a first signing.
However, the 31-year-old Republic of Ireland international struggled for consistent form in the first of a four year deal at Celtic Park.
Despite often being overlooked in favour of Callum McGregor, Reo Hatate and Matt O’Riley, McCarthy has been backed to turn his fortunes around in Glasgow…
The latest: Reid keeps the faith
As quoted by the Daily Record, Reid, the man who gave the 42-cap ace his senior debut for Hibernian when aged just 15, suggested that the experienced midfielder has adapted to do the ‘dirty’ work next season.
The 58-year-old Glasgow born coach said: “There is a role for James at Celtic. He’s not the box-to-box player he was, he’s adapted to become a sitting midfielder where he can do the dirty side. Keeping it simple as a possession-based player, winning the ball back and being that central cog is what he’s so good at.
“There is stiff competition but it doesn’t matter what age you are, age is not a barrier. I look at Mark Noble who I saw when we played West Ham last week, he’s still at the top despite being 35 years old. Scott Brown was being written off every season after he turned 30 but look at the size of his character to show people they are wrong. He always came back stronger.
“Players are always being tested and this is another test for James. I’m just hoping that next season marks a positive turnaround for him as it’s probably fair to say that the last few years have not been where James wanted things to be.”
The verdict: More to come
During the successful 2021/22 campaign, McCarthy made only 22 appearances across all competitions despite remaining fit and available for the most part.
Eight of those outings came in a deeper-lying role, a position Reid has mooted that could be the future for the experienced star ,who was once hailed as ‘real class’ by Roy Hodgson during his time at Crystal Palace.
Following the departure of Nir Bitton and Tom Rogic, Ange Postecoglou may well call upon the services of a McCarthy with plenty to prove more frequently as the Hoops add participation in the Champions League to an already packed fixture schedule.
In other news, Celtic have been linked with another midfield signing. Find out who it is here.
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