IT’S not been a great season for any Celtic supporters who love nothing more than a good moan.
There have been one or two dips; however, those gripes are long forgotten about given what is happening and may be about come, not just this season but the next as well.
But if there is one reason for carping, at least on a small scale, it’s about Patrick Roberts and the amount of game-time this talented and exciting winger has had this season. For many, it’s been nowhere near enough.
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It is no great secret Brendan Rodgers prefers James Forrest to play on the right side with Roberts coming off the bench in 15 of his 34 appearances so far for Celtic this season, which wouldn’t be what he or most would have felt his contribution would be.
Whenever Roberts gets on, and removing his tracksuit top receives a loud cheer, the 20-year-old tends to contribute. He is a different player from Forrest, who is having is best ever season but remains a bit hit-and-miss, and it has been slightly puzzling why he has started more.
He returns to Manchester City soon enough and while there have been murmurings of him spending one more season in Glasgow, he is likely to be in his last few months at Celtic Park.
A hamstring strain, the curse of every winger, hasn’t helped, which is a shame for him and everyone else because when on form he is the most exciting player in the Scottish Premiership.
“My priority is to get as much game-time as possible,” said Roberts. “Obviously it’s a big squad and everyone wants to play. It’s hard because it’s a team sport and when things are going so well you’re buzzing for everyone. Our aim is just to achieve what we started out to do at the beginning of the season.
“The atmosphere right now is amazing, everyone is chilled out and when we win at the weekend it makes the week even better and we can then go into the next game even more confident. It’s brilliant and everyone’s loving it, especially with the fans.
“I’ve loved every minute of my time here, and nobody knows what will happen in the future. But I can safely at the end of the season, if everything goes to plan, I can look back and say it was one of the best times in my career. I loved playing out on that pitch and we’ve still got a few games left.”
Roberts would have played on that pitch more often had his hamstring not let him down and he admitted this has been a frustration.
“Any footballer will tell you it’s not nice watching from the sidelines when you could be involved. It is frustrating and you can get a bit down; however, it’s really important to stay positive.”
Roberts is a talent. Of that there is little doubt. It’s why Manchester City bought him for £12 million, pocket change to that club, two summers ago. But whether the young Englishman could make it at City remains to be seen.
He’s been good for Celtic and Celtic have been good for him. Do not be surprised if Rodgers isn’t looking at similar fringe players at some of the top English clubs.
“I’ve developed a lot and I’ve matured,” Roberts told the Celtic View when reflecting on the past 14 months. “A year has gone by and I’ve changed as a player and a person, and I can’t be thankful enough for that “It’s fantastic to be here now and being unbeaten (domestically) would be an immense achievement.
“There are still a few games left but if we get there it’ll be the one of the most remarkable things I’ve done. So we need to stay confident and focused for the rest of the season.”