It’s nine months and 23 fixtures since Celtic last suffered a league defeat but St Mirren midfielder Conor Newton is convinced that Neil Lennon’s side could be undone in Paisley today by one of the brightest prospects in the English game.
Like Newton, Adam Campbell is a Geordie who has moved to the Premiership on loan from Newcastle United with the intention of using matches against the likes of Celtic as a springboard for his ambitions.
As if to prove that the best things come in small packages, the 5’ 6” striker scored on his debut in Thursday’s 2-1 defeat at Kilmarnock (he turned 18 on New Year’s Day) and his fellow Geordie believes that Scottish fans will become accustomed to watching him celebrate.
Great things have been expected of Campbell, pictured, ever since he won the Most Valuable Player award at the annual Nike Premier Cup for the world’s best youth teams in 2010. Previous winners include Andres Iniesta, Carlos Tevez and Fernando Torres.
He has subsequently become the youngest player ever to turn out for Newcastle in Europe and Newton hopes that he will take the Hoops by storm – and surprise – in Paisley today.
“Adam is always looking to make little half-turns and he’s electric over a short space. If teams don’t know a lot about him then all the better for us because they won’t have that knowledge to try to tie him up.”
Newton believes that Campbell will have the perfect teacher in the Buddies’ top scorer, Steven Thompson who, at 35, has experience to burn.
“I’ve told Adam: ‘Just take a gamble because, if you do, then Thommo is going to win a lot of headers’,” he said.
“There are some big names on that [Nike Cup] trophy but coming up here and getting games is the only way he is going to make it so he has to get out there and try to get as many as he can.
“Our match against Celtic is televised so, if he can do something, people are going to sit up and take notice.”
Manager Danny Lennon, meanwhile, claims that club captain Jim Goodwin, who will miss today’s home game due to suspension, has become victimised by rival bosses.
Lennon claims that there is a concerted attempt to make the 32-year-old a target for match officials.
Celtic’s Neil Lennon, Ross County’s Derek Adams and Jackie McNamara of Dundee United have all publicly criticised Goodwin, who was handed a two-match ban after TV cameras highlighted a forearm smash on United’s Stuart Armstrong which referee Bobby Madden had missed on Boxing Day.
Lennon, though, argues that Goodwin has been unfairly singled out.
“There are other managers who have a go at the fourth official from Jim’s first challenge in every game, even when he’s won the ball cleanly and fairly,” he said.
“We know that happens but I like to think that we have good referees, who aren’t naïve enough to fall for that week-in and week-out.”