Celts colts have every chance to shine, says Chris

Evening Times - - SPORT - By ALI­SON McCONNELL

CHRIS McCART be­lieves that the cur­rent first-team en­vi­ron­ment is the ideal at­mos­phere for young play­ers to step into.

The mix of en­cour­age­ment along with an abil­ity to keep feet firmly on the ground is the op­ti­mum arena for play­ers look­ing to make the step from youth foot­ball to first-team ac­tion, ac­cord­ing to McCart.

“It is not just sink or swim,” he ex­plained. “The man­ager, our first-team staff and the cap­tain, Scott Brown, all take a real in­ter­est in the academy and when play­ers are mov­ing up to train and play they re­ally look af­ter them.

“At the same time they also clip their wings if they feel as if they are get­ting above them­selves. The cul­ture right now is fan­tas­tic for any young player.

“You see that too with the likes of the young tal­ent we have brought up from Eng­land such as Moussa [Dem­bele] and Patrick [Roberts]. We are seen as a club where young play­ers will get the chance to play and de­velop un­der a manger who can im­prove them.

“The en­vi­ron­ment is per­fect for academy play­ers. They need to work hard, be ded­i­cated, make sac­ri­fices, but there is an op­por­tu­nity here for them.”

Mean­while, McCart be­lieves that the late Tommy Burns would have been thrilled to see the way that Celtic’s academy has evolved over the last decade.

The club are al­ways striv­ing to com­pete with the best youth acad­e­mies through­out Europe with coaches tak­ing a keen in­ter­est in how oth­ers teams de­velop their youth.

It was Burns who brought McCart to Celtic to over­see the de­vel­op­ment of young play­ers and he be­lieves the for­mer player and man­ager would have taken great de­light in the over­all holis­tic pro­gramme the Parke­had side have cre­ated.

“Tommy asked me to come in to as­sist him and even now I still feel that he is still a real icon here,” said McCart. “Tommy rep­re­sents what Celtic is all about and I think he would be thrilled to see what the academy has be­come and how suc­cess­ful it has been.

“He would have been deeply proud of the work that we are do­ing. Academy work is about legacy – you don’t see the re­wards im­me­di­ately. It is long-term de­vel­op­ment and we have that in mind. It is great to win cups and leagues at this level but ul­ti­mately it is about cre­at­ing play­ers who can play first-team foot­ball.

“We in­her­ited a fan­tas­tic set-up from Tommy [Burns] and it was al­ways a case for me of con­tin­u­ing what he had started. It is al­ways about sus­tain­abil­ity.

“We are con­stantly look­ing to evolve and pick up the best prac­tice. We are al­ways striv­ing to com­pete with other acad­e­mies. We might not have the same fi­nan­cial mus­cle but we have the in­tel­lec­tual cap­i­tal.

“We have a group there who have worked with the top tal­ents in the game and there are no bound­aries. Ul­ti­mately we be­lieve in the process, in the holis­tic ap­proach and the amount of time on the ball the get, but we are al­ways look­ing to im­prove.”

Celtic head of youth de­vel­op­ment Chris McCart reck­ons Park­head is the per­fect place for youth tal­ent to de­velop

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