Ronny Deila: Scottish football should have B teams

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Manager Ronny Deila would like to see a Celtic B team in the Scottish lower leagues.

The state of the national game is under the spotlight yet again after Scotland’s recent failure to qualify for the 2016 European Championships in France with the development of young players at the heart of the debate.

Ronny Deila believes Celtic's youngsters would benefit from such a system. Picture: John Devlin

Ronny Deila believes Celtic's youngsters would benefit from such a system. Picture: John Devlin

The Norwegian manager does not see his suggestion as being the panacea for all the ills of the Scottish game - “I don’t want to come here and think I know everything about football” - but believes clubs having second teams playing competitive football would help bridge the gap between under-20s and the first team.

Ahead of the visit of Kilmarnock in the Scottish Premiership on Saturday, the former Stromsgodset boss said: “I have seen that in Spain and they have done it for many years in Norway, it is very good.

“We want to bring players in to train with the first team when they are 16/17 years old, like Kieran Tierney and Aidan Nesbitt and we do that.

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“When they get to the age of 19 or 20 I think playing in the under-20s team is too easy for them and also it is a big gap between playing for the under-20s and playing at Celtic Park and playing for Celtic.

“So we have to find something in between which is why we put players like Liam Henderson out on loan (to Championship side Hibernian) so he can be important in a team which fights every week for points and it really matters what he does on the pitch.

“So to have a second team in the league is very good.

“Of course that is a big change but you look around in Europe and see what’s happening.

“More and more talent are going to the bigger clubs, and there are big squads so it is important that numbers 20 to 30 get a good challenge.

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“If we have our best second team then we can maybe challenge for the Championship, maybe in the second division, but it would be very good to put young players into that environment and play important matches in good stadiums with games that really count.

“When I started at Stromsgodset we were in the First Division - like the Championship - and we had a team in the fourth division.

“When I left they had one team in the Premier League, one team in the second division and now also one in the third division, so you can put the players into the right level. It is about getting experience earlier.

“I don’t say this is the answer to how we are going to get better but it is a suggestion. There are a lot of positive things in Scottish football but I think it is important to get new ideas.”

Deila is glad to have skipper Scott Brown back from a knee injury, especially with the crunch Europa League qualifier against Ajax coming up next Thursday night.

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Defender Jozo Simunovic has recovered from a foot knock and if midfielder Kris Commons is out with a combination of a muscle knock and sickness as is likely, he is expected to be ready for the match against the Dutch side where victory is required if Celtic are to have any chance of going through to the knockout stages.

The Parkhead boss said: “Scott Brown has been an important player for this club for many years.

“He is running like a 20-year-old so he is ready to play.

“We have been in a good run in the league, tomorrow is a very important game.

“A lot of the players have had a rest so they should be fresh and hopefully we can put in a very good performance.”