Celtic striker Mikey Johnston heads to Dubai with a positive attitude

Celtic's Mikey Johnston (left) holds off Rangers' Joe Worrall (SNS Group)

MIKEY JOHNSTON is hoping 2019 will be the year he really cements his place in the Celtic set-up.

The Scotland Under-21 forward dazzled in the Hoops’ win over Dundee and was rewarded with his first-ever start in an Old Firm derby seven days later.

But with both opportunities coming as a result of others’ injuries, he is anxious to establish himself in his own right.

He will be working hard to get himself in the best shape, mentally and physically, to do so.

“I’ve always been smaller or more frail than everybody else, so hopefully I’m catching up a bit now,” Johnston said.

“My maturity has got better. At first, I’d get angry at being injured, because when you’re young you can play more.

“But when you get older, you start to pick up wee injuries and you just want to be back.

“It can be frustrating, but I’ve just had to be a bit more patient.

“There would be times I was taking it home with me a wee bit.

“But I figured I just needed to be more professional so I didn’t get injured and did more stuff in the gym for training.

“I am only 19, so hopefully more strength will come naturally to me as well. But I do work hard in the gym.”

As a reward for his progress so far, Johnston will swap the weight machines at Lennoxtown for the sun and sand of Dubai this week where the champions will be based for their winter training camp.

“Just being away every day and training is an opportunity to impress, especially for younger players,” said Johnston.

“I was there last year as well and it was the same.

“I felt more like a young player being taken away.

“But this year I’ve been a bit more involved and I feel like I’m not just coming on to make appearances.”

The teenage Glaswegian says he doesn’t have far to look for inspiration, with his hero, Aiden McGeady, having followed the same route to success at home and abroad.

He said: “I kind of missed Henrik Larsson but I liked McGeady because he was skilful and good to watch. Shunsuke Nakamura, too.

“Everyone feels there is a pathway for players if you work hard, so I want to try to stamp a place.”