Jackie McNamara says that Celtic’s Ryan Christie is capitalising on the opportunity handed to him by Neil Lennon after he was “held back” by injury last season.
The former Bhoy, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, says that there are other players in the Hoops’ squad that will be eyeing up the 24-year-old’s place in the starting XI but that the former Inverness man is doing enough to cement his place in the side.
Christie started both legs of Celtic’s Champions League qualifier against FK Sarajevo, scoring and assisting in the second leg to secure a 2-1 victory and advance to the next stage of the competition.
McNamara says that Christie was unlucky with injury during the 2018/19 campaign but that he has not let that stop him from grabbing his opportunity at the start of this season, insisting his squad rivals now have to find a way to usurp him.
“It was a good one for Christie, he was quite unfortunate last year,” McNamara told Football Insider.
“He came into it quite late on in terms of getting opportunities. He had to be patient, he had a couple of injuries which held him back a little bit. He had the bad one in the semi-final against Aberdeen, it was a really bad one at the time.
“He’s taken the opportunity and done well. Good for him to grab his goal, he’s had two strong performances. I think just now he’s trying to stake a claim.
“I think there’s some others in the squad who are injured and have been brought in. Neil needs as many top performers as possible because it’s going to be a big season.”
Christie made 38 appearances across all competitions last season but was missing for the final final weeks, which included sitting out the Scottish Cup final, after picking up a nasty facial injury in the semi-final against Aberdeen.
Versatile enough to play on either wing or in a central or attacking midfield role, he scored 11 goals and contributed nine assists, including a run of five strikes in six games between October and December 2018.
In other Celtic news, it can be REVEALED that a player highly rated by Lennon is heading out of the club after completing a medical and agreeing a long-term contract with elite team.