James McCarthy – Better Suited to English Championship | OneFootball

Icon: The Celtic Star

The Celtic Star

·31 January 2023

James McCarthy – Better Suited to English Championship

Article image:James McCarthy – Better Suited to English Championship

With the No6 position at Celtic seemingly somewhat oversubscribed at present, it’s far from a surprise to hear that Oliver Abildgaard and Yosuke Ideguchi are being mooted as likely exits for Celtic.

Abildgaard has been posted missing for much of the season and was offered only fleeting opportunities to shine, although to be fair to the Celtic manager, Abildgaard has not exactly grasped the nettle when chances were afforded to him.

Article image:James McCarthy – Better Suited to English Championship

Sydney FC’s Joseph Lolley (L) Celtic FC’s Oliver Abildgaard fight for the ball during the Sydney Super Cup football match at the Allianz Stadium in Sydney on November 17, 2022. (Photo by DAVID GRAY/AFP via Getty Images)

Indeed, when Ange Postecoglou chose to drop Matt O’Riley back into the holding midfield position during Callum McGregor’s absence due to injury, the writing was very much on the wall for the Rubin Kazan player.

Where the Dane goes now as the transfer window closes is anyone’s guess, but whether he stays or goes, it certainly seems – with the signing of Japanese player of the year Tomoki Iwata – that barring an emergency, the Danish midfielder is unlikely to get any further chances to impress at Celtic. In short the loan deal that was heralded by many as a tactical and statistical fit for Celtic has appeared quite the opposite.

Article image:James McCarthy – Better Suited to English Championship

New Celtic signing Tomoki Iwata is unveiled at half time during the Cinch Scottish Premiership match between Celtic FC and Kilmarnock FC at on January 07, 2023 (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Yosuke Ideguchi’s gametime has been just as limited but perhaps for different reasons. A tough run with injuries, starting with that brutal assault against Alloa in the Scottish Cup last year, left him struggling, whilst rumours persist of a player who has perhaps not quite settled into the cultural differences of Glasgow compared to Japan. Put those two things into the mix and you can fully understand why Ideguchi hasn’t been able to force his way into first team reckoning.

Article image:James McCarthy – Better Suited to English Championship

Celtic v Blackburn Rovers Pre-Season Friendly 16/07/2022. Celtic midfielder Yosuke Ideguchi warming up during the Pre-Season Friendly match at Celtic Park, on 16 July 2022. Photo Craig Galloway PSI

One player who at the moment appears not to be attracting interest is James McCarthy who arguably adds a third player who will struggle to push past McGregor and Iwata.

The McCarthy signing was a strange one in terms of a fit for Celtic’s style of play, as was the length of the contract offered to the player 18 months ago. However, considering Celtic’s need for numbers simply to make up a squad that could battle on four fronts, the attraction of an experienced holding midfielder was perhaps attractive at the time. Now however there is little reason to assume McCarthy is likely to be anything other than a peripheral player for Celtic moving forward.

Article image:James McCarthy – Better Suited to English Championship

Celtic v Blackburn Rovers – Pre Season Friendly – Celtic Park James McCarthy, Scott Bain and Mikey Johnston arriving at Celtic Park, : Saturday July 16, 2022. Photo Andrew Milligan

There is scope to keep one of the three as a back-up option should McGregor and Iwata need cover in the remaining months of the season, but having three would certainly indicate an area of the squad that has a surplus of talent – and with Matt O’Riley having shown he is adept in playing that deeper position, even having another player as a fall-back option does appear excessive.

Moves for Ideguchi and Abildgaard seem the most likely as the transfer window nears its end, but it has to be a surprise there has yet to be more interest in James McCarthy, particularly from clubs in the English Championship, where a more specialised and rigid holding midfielder is still a tactical fit.

Niall J

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