FORMER Liverpool and England striker Emile Heskey believes that Celtic supporters will immediately take to Tom Rogic after seeing the midfielder light up the Australian League.
The 20-year-old is in Glasgow finalising a £450,000 move to Celtic after returning with the squad following his time with them at the club’s winter training camp in Marbella this week.
Rogic had an excellent year with Central Coast Mariners after playing the sport of futsal just a year ago.
Heskey, 35, now plays for A-League outfit Newcastle Jets and has been impressed with young Australian international Rogic.
He believes Celtic have landed an exciting midfield talent.
Heskey said: “I’m sure Rogic will do well with his ability, he’s a very good player and he’s got a massive club to go to as well. And I’m sure the fans will take to him over there really well because of the way he plays.
“It’s too early to say, but I’m sure he has the basis to succeed. It’s now just about getting experience playing with the players he’s going to have around him and the league he’s going to play in and playing against players who aren’t going to give him as much time on the ball.
“Granted, out here in the A-League, you can’t run around like you do in England. It’s different conditions, but he’s got a really good ability and he’ll have good coaches at Celtic who can help him along.”
Heskey’s only concern for Rogic is the timing of his arr-ival. He pointed out: “It’s difficult going mid-season because you’re kind of expected to light it up. If you’re coming in pre-season, you’ve kind of got time to build it up because in pre-season, you’ll play six to seven games. But now, you want to hit the ground running. It’s difficult if they haven’t been out of their own country before playing in an overseas league.”
But his Central Coast Mariners director of football, Lawrie McKinna, has tipped Rogic to follow in the footsteps of
another Australian export who was a big success at Celtic Park – Mark Viduka.
He said: “It’s a fantastic opportunity. Celtic’s a massive club. Obviously he has to settle his personal terms with them but the clubs have agreed and it’s a great move for him. They’re playing in the Champions League this year – they’ll be playing in the Champions League next year. Mark Viduka went there as a stepping stone and it was great for him and, with the style of play there, I think he’ll go over and be a standout.”
Meanwhile, Mo Bangura believes he can score goals for Celtic if given the chance after netting in Tuesday night’s friendly win over Steaua Bucharest. The striker was given a rare outing for the first team in the challenge match in Marbella and responded by heading the winner as Celtic came from behind to win 2-1.
Bangura has failed to make an impact, or score a competitive goal, since joining Celtic for about £2 million from Swedish side AIK in 2011, although a knee injury hindered his progress. The 23-year-old only made three starts for Celtic – and ten substitute appearances – before being loaned back to AIK in August.
The Sierra Leone international has yet to feature for the first team since his loan ended last month but feels he is ready to make his mark. Bangura told Celtic’s website: “I don’t know even know how to explain myself as I feel really great and happy. I have to say thanks to everyone – my team-mates and the coaches who have given me a chance, as this what I need. Hopefully, I will get some more.
“I need to score goals as this gives me confidence and now I need to play more games. This is why I went on loan as I was injured and then when I came back I needed matches. So I went and scored a couple of goals and got my belief back.
“I am delighted to be back and score my first goal for Celtic. It was good for me. It was a good cross from Kris Commons and I just managed to head it down into the far corner. I now have to fight to be in the team, to get chances and hopefully bang in some more goals.”