Matty Hughes back from injury and on the Forrest trail


Matty Hughes was back in action at his commanding best as Celtic’s u-19 side kicked off the season in style with an 8-0 win over Hamilton Accies on Saturday.

Less than a month after picking up what looked like a worrying neck injury against Liverpool the former Rochdale defender was yelling instructions at his team-mates as if he’d never been away.

Hughes lay motionless on the turf at Lennoxtown as he was eased into a stetcher and neck brace.

An ambulance soon arrived to take him to hospital in the company of a club doctor but with the pleasure of Saturday’s performance in mind Hughes was quick to play down his injury scare.

“The injury wasn’t as bad as first thought,” he revealed. “My fingers went numb, my neck was sore and the medics couldn’t take any risks with me.

“I couldn’t move my head, I knew that something wasn’t right but we took every precaution, when I went down my neck was sore and they put me in a neck brace.

“I went in an ambulance from Lennoxtown, I had some scans then was back out later in the afternoon with the doc.

“I never phoned my parents because I knew that it would worry them, once everything was cleared up I called them, if I’d rung them before there would have been a bit of panic.

“My neck was really sore, I had trouble sleeping that night but I knew it would be fine, the doc assured me and it got better day by day.

“I went to Belgium a few days later, I never played but did rehab with the physio and now I’m back playing again.”

With the injury cleared up Hughes returned to action in the pre-season outings against Preston and Morton before facing Hamilton on Saturday.

Hamilton have a highly rated youth set up but had no answer to the high tempo football that Celtic played topped off by the clinical finishing off James Keatings.

A ten game winning sequence secrured last season’s u-19 title with the double added thanks to a memorable win over Rangers in the final of the SFA Youth Cup at Hampden.

More pleasing than the trophy successes has been the impact made by James Forrest in the first team after steping up from last season’s u-19 squad.

Forrest’s promotion has given the whole club a lift with, on Saturday’s evidence against Hamilton, plenty of others ready to meet the challenge of first team football.

Hughes added: “James Forrest is an example to all of us and Richie Towell isn’t far behind him.

“Last season they were playing with us week in week out and the manager has shown that he is prepared to give young players a chance.

“Those two have taken their chance well and hopefully there will be more players to follow them- James is a great incentive for everyone in the 19s squad.

“Last season’s youth team was obviously very successful and that’s the standard that we have to aim for again this season and we’ve started well.

“Tommy and Steve place an emphasis on keeping the ball moving and we saw the result of that against Hamilton on Saturday.

“We started a bit slowly but once the goals started to come our game picked up and it was very pleasing for everyone.

“James Keatings came down from the development squad at Lennoxtown and fitted back into the side straight away and took his goals perfectly. He can play in a number of positions and almost makes an impact.

“My target is to enjoy a good season injury free, I’ve had a few injuries over the last two seasons so it was a big relief that the neck injury didn’t amount to anything serious.

“I’ve been up to Lennoxtown a couple of times already and want to push my career on. I want to catch the managers eye and see where that takes me.”

On Saturday Celtic u-19s are at home to St Johnstone, kick off and venue are still to be announced

James Forrest Scotland u-21 call up

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