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Celtic coach John Kennedy backs colts teams joining SPFL

Celtic coach John Kennedy (SNS Group / Paul Devlin)
Celtic coach John Kennedy (SNS Group / Paul Devlin)

CELTIC coach John Kennedy has backed the idea of having under-age teams in the league set-up and believes it would benefit the whole of Scottish football.

A restructuring of this season’s IRN-BRU Cup saw Ladbrokes Premiership Under-20s sides enter the competition and after beating Annan and Cowdenbeath, the Hoops youths were beaten 5-1 at Livingston on Saturday.

One newspaper report revealed plans are afoot to prepare a formal proposal which would see Celtic and Rangers under-age teams become part of the SPFL pyramid and the former Parkhead defender is in favour.

“You need to look at the big picture, ” said Kennedy, who revealed that Kieran Tierney and Leigh Griffiths are better than 50-50 to return from injury for the game against Rangers on Saturday after pulling out the Scotland squad for the World Cup qualifier in Malta on Sunday.

“It is not just about Celtic, it is about Scottish football and what is best for the national team and the leagues.

“If they can make it happen and pretty much make everyone happy as well, it is a positive thing.

“Our young lads have had a great experience this season with the cup.

“Obviously they lost to Livingston at the weekend but that is part and parcel of first-team football and it is a wake-up for them.

“They had a great result against Annan and Cowdenbeath and they lose against Livingston and that is the reality of that type of football and it can only be beneficial for them.

“So it is important for Scottish football to look at it and try to make it happen.”

Kennedy, speaking at Celtic Park where was helping to publicise the ‘Celtic, The Musical’ show, believes having a colt team in the league would ease the pathway of youth players into the Parkhead first team.

“It is crucially important for the development of our players,” he said.

“We have a lot of players who go out on loan to other clubs and it is great to get that experience but they do go to other clubs that play in a different style and have different methods and it almost knocks them out of sync a little bit in terms of what we do with them, what we are trying to teach them because all of a sudden they are being told something different.

“So if we did have that opportunity to put them in the league it would all us to do everything in-house and develop them to a level where we can move them in to our first team.

“Don’t get me wrong, the set-up so far is good. We do have some fantastic clubs who take our players and do a very good job but I think it would make things a lot simpler if we could keep things in-house.”

Of more pressing concern for the fans of Celtic and Rangers is the first OldFirm league meeting in four years.

Kennedy is looking for the Hoops players to be as detached as possible from the emotions of the game, which will be refereed by Willie Collum, as the champions look to extend their lead over the Ibrox men at the top of the table to four points, with a game in hand.

He said: “It is important that we be very disciplined and organised and make sure that we focus on the game plan.

“You can’t get away from the emotion but you have to be very switched on in terms of what the manager wants the team to do, know your job in the team and stick to that because if you don’t then it becomes a free for all and anything can happen.

“You want to take the risk away from that by the concentration levels, making sure you are fully ready for what is coming.

“We are confident, that is the most important thing.

“So far we have ticked all the boxes. We have qualified for the Champions League, in the next stage of the cup, we have won all our matches in the league. We can do more.

“We have a squad which is pretty much fully fit. We are certainly looking forward to it.

“We are in a good run of form and we want to make sure that carries on into Saturday.”


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