How a key Sunderland summer target rebooted his Celtic career and what happens next

Ryan Christie has rebooted his Celtic career in recent weeks
Ryan Christie has rebooted his Celtic career in recent weeks
0
Have your say

In the closing days of the window Jack Ross was keen to make one final addition to his squad.

By and large he was pleased with the options at his disposal, particularly as the sparkling form of Josh Maja had settled any fears that the squad would be left lacking goals.

In Ryan Christie, however, he identified a talented young player who felt would add a little more variety to his squad.

Christie looked to be out of favour at Celtic as they looked for reinforcements, the 23-year-old having spent the previous season on loan at Aberdeen.

"Ryan is a player that I like, he has good qualities but again it is a balance between what we need in the squad," Ross said.

"He is a left footer and we don't have a lot of them in the squad in forward areas.

"He is a player that I am acutely aware of and he fits the kind of bracket in terms of he has played a lot of games for a young man."

But with the wantaway players saga dragging on, Ross admitted in the closing days of the window that a move looked unlikely.

"Ryan obviously isn’t playing much at Celtic at the moment, though he did come off the bench in a league game at the weekend," he said.

"He’ll have interest from elsewhere and we’re not in position where we can do anything immediately. That may be problematic for us as these hours wounds down. It may not be, things could change [with Ndong and Djilobodji].

"There’s been dialogue with clubs so we could potentially move something forward [with Christie or another target] quite quickly.

"But because the deadline is longer in some European countries, that complicates it again. In theory the two players players could still sit it out.

"It has been a saga, it’s been rubbish for Tony [Coton] and Richard [Hill], time consuming and stopped them focusing on the positive aspects of the club.

"It is sad in a lot of ways, they’re footballers, they should want to play."

As it happened, Celtic endured a disappointing end to the window, selling Moussa Dembele and failing to land a replacement.

A door opened for Christie and he has now made 11 appearances this season.

On Sunday he made a spectacular impression, introduced at half-time with a cup semi-final against Hearts in the balance.

He scored one goal, won a penalty and contributed to another as Celtic ran out 3-0 winners.

Manager Brendan Rodgers says he wants to commit Christie to a new deal.

His current contract expires next summer.

"Ryan was just sensational. He’s someone that of course we would look to commit to," he said.

“The club have been talking to his representatives but I’m not aware of any movement.

Ryan is definitely a player that we would love to keep. He is a fantastic player. You saw his contribution.

“You saw it at Aberdeen when he was there. It was step by step but now he’s 23. He’s at a really good age, so he can make a valuable contribution to this team.

“Olivier Ntcham felt a tightness in his hamstring and it was weighing up the risk.

“When you have Ryan on the bench you have a decision to make and I felt his energy and goal threat could help," he added.

“I always felt Ryan could come back and then make a contribution because you need that personality to play for the big clubs and play in big games.

“He’s shown that. He’s come into games, he started games and you saw his impact.

“He scored a brilliant goal and was involved in two others. It’s all part of the development for him and it was great to see.”

Executive Director Charlie Methven said last week that Jack Ross would have to move players on to recruit in January, but added that he expected some 'tweaks' to the current squad.

Ross's attacking options have been hit by an injury to Charlie Wyke but he is expected to be fit in tiem for the new year, while the return and form of Aiden McGeady has also served as a boost.

On Monday Ross paid tribute to McGeady's professionalism and ability.

"Aiden is an unbelievably talented footballer," Ross said.

"I’ve seen it first-hand because I’ve played against him directly, so I know how good he is. I see it every day in training.

“What he deserves an enormous amount of credit for at the moment is his professionalism and his attitude because he was disappointed not to start against Doncaster but he came on and helped us win the game in the last period.

“On Saturday I thought he was really, really good when he came on. We hoped he would do that when the game opened up. It suits him, because one-v-one he’s as good as anyone in the country, never mind the league.

“I’m pleased he got his reward with the goal because that’s been the most frustrating thing for him,” Ross added.

“I’m delighted with the contribution he’s making for me and like a lot of players he’ll want to make sure he’s in the starting team.

“Aiden’s an intelligent man and I think sometimes we forget the level he’s played at. He’s played in the latter stages of the Champions League and he’s dealt with a lot of pressure and expectation from an early age.

“He cares deeply about his football and he’s been very good for me since I came to the club, even when he was injured.

“But there’s always that balance. As a senior player you help the younger players but you also want to play, he’s still got that drive to play every week.”