Initially at least, they will be given one term in essentially the fifth tier of the Scottish game – having been rejected by League Two clubs. But even this temporary fix will make the campaign unlike any of recent times for academies where it is generally regarded to house Scotland’s most promising talents.. It is a plus Celtic’s interim manager would argue offsets the perception that the modest set-up won’t offer the sort of tests required to assist player development for the benefit of the national team, ultimately.
“The Lowland League has provided the opportunity,” said Kennedy, with a Celtic focus. “So that is better than we currently have. Is it ideal? You’d love to go and play in the lower leagues and get up to the Championship or whatever it might be, like other clubs do [in other nations]. But that’s not there for us at the moment, so this is a good start point to get the colts up and running.
“And in terms of what it provides, not just in this season with the challenges of covid but even last season, some of our young players could go three and four weeks without a game. That’s not an elite environment for development. “What we know we are guaranteed with this is a proper games programme against professional players who will be hungry to win. So it challenges us in that respect, and that is something the players have to become accustomed to and used to in order to make the step to the first team. So I think it is a real positive for our game and club. I think it is the right thing to do.
“For a number of years now there has been an inconsistency in what goes between youths and the first team. We have tried different things, different age groups, different conditions around older and younger players, whatever it might, but there has been no games programmes that have provided what we need. Longer term the hope is that develops better players for the national team as well.”