We are now half way through the season so let’s have a look at the progress made by the first team squad so far.
Fraser Forster – Continues to improve as a goalkeeper and has made the welcome breakthrough into the England set up. Looks certain to make the England squad for the Brazil World Cup finals which is a great reward for his displays. One of the few to impress during ill fated CL campaign.
Verdict: Probably the club’s greatest asset and it will be a major surprise if he is still with us in the summer. B plus.
Adam Matthews – Unlucky with injuries which have checked his progress. Has shown great versatility in playing at left back and right midfield with great enthusiasm.
Verdict: The best is yet to come from the young Welshman although he faces a battle with Lustig for the right back berth. C.
Mikael Lustig – Must be the most improved player at CelticPark. Memories of those shaky performances in his early days have been banished as he has edged Matthews from the right back position. Has great presence on the field and drives team forward. Top performer for club and country.
Verdict: Now an automatic first choice on the team sheet. B plus.
Emilio Izaguirre – Back to his best form and now looks fully covered from his leg break. Has also regained his confidence when attacking and his crossing has improved tremendously.
Verdict: Great to see him regain form and looking forward to seeing him perform for Honduras in Brazil. B.
Virgil Van Dijk – Few players have made such a big impression as a new signing in years. Looks a genuine class act who could easily perform at a higher level in one of the main European leagues. Not only brilliant at coming out from the back but is also a capable defender. Easily Celtic’s most creative defender since George Connelly.
Verdict: If there is any justice he will sneak into Holland’s World Cup squad. A plus.
Efe Ambrose – Van Dijk and Ambrose now combine to make the most impressive Celtic defensive partnerships for years. Terrific at carrying the ball from the back but has to eradicate those little lapses in concentration he sometimes has. Ironic that our two best footballers in the team are our centre backs.
Verdict: Now developing into cult hero status with the supporters. A.
Charlie Mulgrew – Manager’s favourite who plays anywhere on the park to good affect. Only down side has to be that he now has no settled position to play in. Looked great in a back three with Van Dijk and Ambrose.
Verdict: A great asset to the team who has now established himself as an internationalist. C plus.
Scott Brown – Team captain and the manager’s leader on the field of play. At his best he is a driving force but still loses his cool too easily as was witnessed against Barca in the CL. Looks better on the right hand side rather in his preferred central role.
Verdict: Continues to impress but still disappoints with letting himself down with shows of petulance. C.
Joe Ledley – Said to be the club’s highest paid player and there is a feeling that he does not contribute enough overall. At times he is fantastic, at other times anonymous. On the plus side one of the few midfield players who poses a goal threat.
Verdict: Will be a surprise if he is still with us in August. B minus.
Beram Kayal – Two years ago the hope was that we could build the side around the dynamic Kayal. Two years later he appears constantly injured and no progress has been made. Even at SPL level he has regressed and us a shadow of the player he once was.
Verdict: Would be no surprise if the club look to move him on in the summer. C.
Nir Biton: Difficult to assess him as he seldom has a starting place in the line up. Was said to have been the replacement for Wanyama but judgement will have to be reserved.
Verdict: Still something of an unknown quantity. C minus.
Tom Rogic – The big Aussie is something of an enigma. Came with a great reputation from down under and started well. However no progress has been made in the last six months and some of us are asking why he is never given a decent run given the lack of creativity in midfield.
Verdict: With the World Cup finals looming he has to start playing. C minus.
James Forrest – Can no longer be regarded as a promising youngster and has to step up to the plate. Made great start by scoring dramatic winner against Karagandy but couldn’t push on from there. Should be concentrating on his performance on the field and avoiding making unnecessary headlines off the field.
Verdict: Next six months will give us a good idea of which direction his career is taking. C.
KrisCommons. The man, the main man and at times the only man. Looks to be the sides only creative outlet and without him things would look bleak. Vital goals against Elfsberg and Karagandy gave the season a real boost with the latter goal being one of the greatest seen on the hallowed Parkhead turf.
Verdict: Brilliant 15 goal return from a guy who is not an orthodox forward. A plus.
Georgios Samaras – The eternal enigma. When on form he is unstoppable but when not he appears to be a waste of a jersey. The feeling now is his heart may not be with us with his contract now running out.
Verdict: Perhaps the sands of time have run out for Celtic’s Sammi. C.
Derk Boerrigter – Looked most promising on his debut but an injury held back his progress. Came with a reputation for being injured and has live up to that reputation so far. Has shown very little until now to enthuse over.
Verdict: Big six months approaching for Celtic’s flying Dutchman and he has to contribute more. C minus.
Dylan McGeouch – Looked a promising starlet in the last couple of seasons but still no nearer finding a first team place. Never looked comfortable on right flank and perhaps could do with a run in his preferred central midfield role.
Verdict: Has to make his mark before season ends. C minus.
Anthony Stokes – Despite criticism he remains the club’s best striker. Is suffering by having to play the lone role up front and badly misses Hooper who he enjoyed such a fruitful partnership with. Had great start to the season but has faded as season has gone on.
Verdict: Not Tony’s best season so far but hopes that he will improve. B minus.
Teemu Pukki – Came with a considerable pedigree from Schalke and Finland but has failed miserably to live up to expectations. Made a reasonably bright start but neither scores or creates enough. Another who has to look to improve in the coming months.
Verdict: Lacks heart and looks as if he also lacks the physique to cope in the Scottish game. C minus.
Amido Balde – Another summer signing for whom we had great expectations. Of all the new arrivals he is perhaps the most disappointing. Lacks the necessary technique and guile and has is not convincing in the air for a big man. Goal against Liverpool in Dublin gave us hope but little has been seen of him since.
Verdict: Would be no surprise if he goes out on loan. D.