Celtic player turnover laid bare as 2019 signing left in 'bizarre' position

Developments at Celtic this season seem to have put years on Greg Taylor.

It isn’t that the full-back has been burdened by helping his club regain their league crown. Instead, it is that the departures of the long-serving pair Tom Rogic and Nir Bitton have significantly altered his status within a squad comprehensively rebuilt by Ange Postecoglou.

Taylor may have arrived at Celtic as relatively recently as September 2019, joining then in a £2m move from Kilmarnock. The monumental turnover in the champions’ playing personnel since then, though, means only James Forrest and Callum McGregor have racked up more games for the club than the defender. That fact, he jokes, has seriously aged him - even as the manner he has matured under Postecoglou’s stewardship, which has required him to become a full-back capable of building the play from the middle of the pitch, resulted in easily his best campaign for the Glasgow side.

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“I’m 24 years old and I’m classed as the old guard so it is a bit bizarre,” Taylor said. “But I think it is a pressure and a responsibility that I have enjoyed this year, being looked at as one of the more senior players. Hopefully, I can continue to do that – try to help the others, and try to improve myself. I think I have had a successful season personally but that only becomes possible with the collective – everyone playing their small part in the team.

“If you all do that then you normally get decent success and I think we have done that this year. Whether it is the goalie, full-backs, midfielders – everyone has played their part and that is the reason that we have been successful together. It has been a new way of playing [for me] but it has been one I’ve enjoyed learning. I continue to try and learn from it because we know as a team we are not the finished article yet. We are a good team but we want to become a great one. The hope is that over the next few months we can do that.”

The break to come before that quest will be welcomed by Taylor. But his summer off-period is sure to be abridged by commitments to Scotland in their drive to take the country to a first World Cup finals in 24 years. The squad to face Ukraine in the play-off semi-final on June 1 - the winners travelling to Wales five days’ later for a tie that will decide one of the remaining places for the Qatar extravaganza that kicks off in November - will be named next week. Even with Arsenal’s Kieran Tierney counted out by injury for one of the left-back berths, he is making no assumptions about his old Rugby Park manager Steve Clarke’s intentions.

“I still have to be picked, I never take it for granted. Hopefully I get picked and then it is another exciting period. I’ll enjoy the next couple of weeks, maybe get away for a few days and then I’ll be ready to go for the Scotland games. [When it comes to needing a break] It’s the same in every walk of life. Everyone looks forward to their holidays and we are no different just because we have the best job in the world. We’ll go away for a few days and play a wee bit of golf with my friends. Then I’ll be back and ready for Scotland.”

Celtic's Greg Taylor celebrates with the Premiership trophy after last weekend's 6-0 win over Motherwell on the final day of the season. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
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