James McCarthy gets up to speed with first 90 minutes for Celtic

Ange Postecoglou pleased with Ireland midfielder after Sunday’s win over Aberdeen

James McCarthy played his first 90 minutes for Celtic in Sunday’s win over Aberdeen. Photograph:  Steve Welsh/PA

James McCarthy played his first 90 minutes for Celtic in Sunday’s win over Aberdeen. Photograph: Steve Welsh/PA

 

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou feels James McCarthy took a step forward in his Parkhead career after completing his first 90 minutes in Sunday’s 2-1 win over Aberdeen.

The Republic of Ireland midfielder has been catching up with his fitness after missing pre-season and suffering other fitness issues since signing in early August.

The 31-year-old has taken time to get up to the speed of Celtic’s play but he was better in possession against the Dons and played a brilliant through ball for Liel Abada just before Callum McGregor forced home the winner.

McCarthy had replaced Nir Bitton in the midfield anchor role and his performance encouraged Postecoglou.

“Nir wasn’t right,” the Celtic manager said. “James did well. It’s his first 90 minutes. He’s obviously had disrupted preparation. I’m really pleased he could get 90 minutes under his belt.

“It’s just a matter of games and opportunity and we haven’t had the opportunity to give him that game time.

“I’m sure he will feel better after that. We are going to need him and need all the lads because we have still got 10 games to go before the break, including a cup final. And every game is important.

“It gives us a little more depth in there.

Tommy Rogic should be back on Thursday. Nir should be fit. We’ve got a lot of games coming up and it’s good we are getting some depth in the midfield area in particular.”

David Turnbull was also pleased to see midfield partner McCarthy hit form.

“He was excellent, that was his first 90 in however long,” Turnbull said. “He was brilliant and showed his quality for the second goal, a nice wee chop and a great through ball for Liel, and he showed that throughout the full game how good he can be.

“We are going to need everybody because there’s a lot of games coming up in December so it’s about sticking together and working as a team.”

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