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Matty Hughes back as youth season kicks off

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Skipper Matty Hughes will be in the thick of the action tomorrow as Celtic’s youth side kick off the defence of the u-19 title against Hamilton Accies, kick-off 11am Barrafield.

Three weeks ago the big kick-off looked a distant prospect for the defender as he was stretchered out of the 1-0 win over Liverpool in a neck brace before being taken to hospital in an ambulance.

It looked a very serious injury with the Liverpool match held up for 19 minutes as the former Rochdale kid lay motionless on the ground as he was attended to by members of the Celtic medical team.

“Matty is fit again after the neck injury he suffered against Liverpool,” youth boss Stevie Frail revealed. “He travelled with us to Belgium but didn’t play in any games.

He’s back now and that’s good to see, he played against Preston and Morton which is great because it did look quite a nasty injury.

“Lewis Toshney and Curtis Jones played together and acquitted themselves well but it’s good to have Matty back fit and playing again.”

James Forrest, James Keatings, Richie Towell, Declan Gallagher, Danielle Giordano and Sean Fitzharris have all moved on into the development squad creating space for younger players coming up from the u-17 squad.

Last season’s squad won their last ten matches to take the SPL title as well as winning the SFA Youth Cup in style with a win over Rangers at Hampden thanks to goals from Fitzharris and Filip Twardzik.

The purpose of the entire youth programme is to provide the first team squad with rather than collecting silverware but the best way to develop players is through winning matches.

Tommy McIntyre co-ordinates the professional side of the club’s academy and ensures that the link between the u-17 and u-19 sides is as close as possible.

“We are always looking to improve,” Frail added. “There’s no fear in looking at last season’s achievements, we’re here to develop players and one of the best ways to do that is by winning matches.

“Last season we were fortunate enough to do that but the buzz for everyone is getting players up to Lennoxtown and ultimately to see players follow James Forrest into the first team. Ultimately that’s what our job is all about.

“Against Hamilton there will be half a dozen players in the starting side that have came up from an exciting u-17 group last season.

“The players that we still have from last season are helping them to settle in and the transition from 17s with Tommy (McIntyre) and Miodrag (Krivokapic) shouldn’t be too big a step up.

“We’ve had a great pre-season build up and everyone is in good shape and looking forward to getting back into competitive action again

“The real stuff starts against Hamilton and we know that they are a good side. Our players are raring to go and the game can’t come quickly enough for us.”

If you are in the Glasgow area head along to the Barrafield tomorrow and get to know the young players coming through at the club and see the sort of work that goes on into preparing the team.

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