Less than 48 hours after celebrating his side’s Hampden win over Rangers youth coach Stevie Frail was back at the coalface working with next season’s u-19 prospects, tieing up the SPL campaign with a 2-0 win away to Hearts.
Half of the double winning side will be available again next season but they will mostly be targetting a place in the development squad or getting sent out on loan to experience regular first team football.
Watching a new group of players for the first time brings extra interest and yesterday’s action at Hearts was worthwhile.
John Young and Curtis Jones formed a strong physical presence in front of the impressive Robbie Thomson in goal but it’s the creative areas of the team that always attract attention.
Liam Madden, Callum McGregor and Islam Feruz created a very mobile midfield partnership with all of them showing great energy and flexibility to get up and down the park, put in their tackles and be on the look out for the defence spiltting pass.
In attack Liam Gourley didn’t have many opportunities in front of goal but kept the Hearts defence busy with Paul George lying slightly deeper in support of Gourley.
Almost un-noticed on Wednesday George was given a 15 minute runout in the first team against AZ Alkmaar. Although the regular first team was rested and the u-19 squad were playing in the final of the SFA Youth Cup on the same night it says a lot for George that he was picked out to sample the first team experience straight from the u-17 side.
Frail said: “Paul made his debut at a very young age, we need to temper it a little bit due to circumstances but he still got his chance.
“He only got 15 minutes but the excitement from Wednesday night would take it’s toll and we only gave him an hour today.
“Paul is an exciting winger, he can play on both sides and we’re pleased for him. John Young has been on the bench a few times for the u-19s and has done well for the u-17s.”
Feruz is another player to have sampled a first team match at Celtic Park, playing last season for the Tommy Burns XI and making a favourable impact on the fans as well as those on the park.
It’s inevitable that greater attention and scrutiny will be placed on the Somalia born Scotland Schoolboys star but Frail and the rest of the Celtic coaching staff have to constantly remind themselves of the players youth.
“It was tough for Islam today because he was in with a young team as well,” Frail added. “Maybe if we had went in with a bit more strength and bigger lads we would have seen more of him.
“I thought that he did fine. He is a talent, he has great ability and great feet and we’re just letting him play and see how his game develops.”