Christie can slot right in for cham­pi­ons, in­sists Sbra­gia

The Herald - Sport - - FOOTBALL - SCOTT MULLEN

RYAN CHRISTIE is al­ready ca­pa­ble of mak­ing it big in the Celtic start­ing XI ac­cord­ing to Ricky Sbra­gia, the Scot­land Un­der-21 man­ager.

The na­tional team head coach has once again se­lected the player for his coun­try ahead of the Euro qual­i­fier dou­ble header with France and Ice­land next month. It was an easy de­ci­sion for Sbra­gia, who has watched the 20-yearold, who is cur­rently back at In­ver­ness Cale­do­nian This­tle on loan, flour­ish for John Hughes’ team.

His tal­ents were clear to see on Satur­day when the for­ward slammed in a 30-yard screamer against Aberdeen to help in­flict the Pit­to­drie club’s first de­feat of the Lad­brokes Premier­ship cam­paign. Christie’s run of form and game time in the High­lands is un­doubt­edly a ben­e­fit to the U21 team, who won their open­ing group game last month 2-1 away to North­ern Ire­land – a game the hot tal­ent scored in.

But Sbra­gia be­lieves, that on cur­rent form, his star man has what it takes to make his mark on the Celtic team he will join in the New Year. “I think he has al­ways had abil­ity and tal­ent,” he said. “It was just about the time when that would all come to­gether. That is grad­u­ally hap­pen­ing and he is reap­ing the ben­e­fits of it. Yogi up at In­ver­ness has done ex­tremely well for him. And the fact he is play­ing con­tin­ued first­team football is a big plus for him. In some cases, play­ers will play one week and then not again for two or three weeks. But Ryan is play­ing week in, week out. I think he has a great chance of play­ing for Celtic as well, with the form he is in. But he is at In­ver­ness just now and I think he is fo­cused on that. He wants to keep do­ing ex­tremely well for them and be in this Un­der-21 squad.”

Sbra­gia added: “We had a chat on the Fri­day be­fore the North­ern Ire­land game about that [sign­ing for Celtic] be­cause it had been a great week for him, al­beit a dif­fi­cult week in a way. But he dealt with it. Men­tally he was right. When we spoke to him, there was never any doubt about him want­ing to play, or mak­ing an ex­cuses.

“That said a lot about him and the great thing for me is that he wants to play for Scot­land.”

Kil­marnock’s Craig Slater has been re­called to the squad af­ter re­cov­er­ing from in­jury, while there is also a slot for Do­minic Hyam of Read­ing.

Look­ing ahead to the chal­lenge ahead, that will see group lead­ers Ice­land and heavy­weights France come to Pit­to­drie, Sbra­gia said: “We know we have two dif­fi­cult games com­ing up.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.