Hibs’ James Keatings eager to add to Celtic youth success

Hibs striker James Keatings came through the ranks at Celtic. Picture: Neil Hanna
Hibs striker James Keatings came through the ranks at Celtic. Picture: Neil Hanna
Share this article
0
Have your say

Hibernian striker James Keatings is hungry to add to the abundant cup success he enjoyed as a Celtic youth player.

Keatings won a succession of trophies as a teenager but always knew that glory in the senior game might be more difficult to achieve.

So he is determined to grab his chance of a first cup final appearance when Hibs take on St Johnstone in the last four of the League Cup at Tynecastle on Saturday.

The former Hamilton and Hearts forward said: “Growing up through the youth ranks at Celtic, we were always in finals. We won every cup there was, going through the stages.

“That gives you a wee bit of experience but getting to the top of the professional stage is even more exciting.

“I had Stevie Frail as a coach and he always said to us that he went through his career not winning anything. A lot of players go through their careers without winning trophies.

READ MORE - Rumour Mill: Crepulja raves about Celtic trial | Malonga joins Pro Vercelli | Celtic close in on Roberts

“It’s about grabbing the chances. As a youth player you wanted to grab the chance then and it’s exactly the same now. It gives you hunger for success and that’s the hunger I want to carry on in my career and keep winning things.”

While Keatings grew up at Parkhead, his initial first-team experience came during a loan spell with St Johnstone in 2012.

“I had six months there,” the 24-year-old said. “I was coming off the back of my cruciate (knee injury) and it was about building back my confidence and getting a sniff of first-team action. I managed to get that and it was a great experience for me.

“It was my first real taste of first-team football and it was great getting amongst the boys, seeing the physical stuff and what it takes to get there.

“There are a few of them still there, a lot of good boys and experienced boys. They won the cup so they will be up for it and know what it takes in these semi-finals.

“Liam Craig was there at the time and was really good with me. I travelled through with Midge (Chris) Millar in the mornings and he was really good with me, and I still chat to him every so often.

“The experienced guys helped me learn and were great with me.”

READ MORE - Defending Pat Nevin after Paul Hartley’s furious outburst

St Johnstone’s team spirit has often been credited as the reason for their recent success but Keatings feels the Hibs morale can rival that of any team.

“It’s a great changing room here, I think this is the best changing room I have been in since I started playing football,” Keatings said. “A lot of the boys say that the team spirit here is something they have never seen before and it’s really good to have that.”

The personnel in the dressing room has undergone significant change during this transfer window and Keatings now has fresh competition from former Celtic team-mate Anthony Stokes.

“I had that last season,” said Keatings, who has scored seven goals in 17 games since joining from Hearts in the summer.

“Players come in and players go. There’s always competition for places.

“I firmly believe in myself. I’m a confident boy and I feel as if I get back to the form that I showed at the start of the season then I can get myself back in this team.”

One striker has departed Hibs though with Dominique Malonga tying up a move to Italian Serie B side Pro Vercelli 1892 for an undisclosed fee.

THE SCOTSMAN ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Keep up to date with all our sport news on The Scotsman’s Sport page on Facebook

Follow @ScotsmanSport for the latest sports news and comment