A first senior goal for attacker Karamoko Dembele in the closing minutes of a 4-0 victory over St Johnstone came on an evening when fellow 18-year-old left-back Adam Montgomery was handed his first-team debut, with keeper Vasilis Barkas making his first start since January. There have been reports of the talked-up wunderkind Dembele being on his way out at Celtic but Kennedy rejected such suggestions.
“There is a lot of speculation in terms of Karamoko being out of contract in the summer,” said the interim manager. “I don’t know where that has come from because he has another year left. He is a young player and every young player has a different pathway. Karamoko has been spoken about as the next superstar, but people develop physically at different rates. He is probably one who still has a bit of development, but is a terrific talent — we know that. It’s not a token gesture, he has done well in training recently.
“‘Adam was unfortunate not to play before now. He has been around the first team for the last five or six months training. He is similar to Keiran [Tierney] in a way. With young players we bring them up to train and after a week or two he made an impression and we could see he could handle it. He came to the point where I’ve been a young player myself and you need the opportunity. You just see they are good to go – and he was. It’s a great start for him, we have high hopes for him for the future.”
Kennedy expressed regret over the circumstances of the final game of a 14-year Celtic career for Brown – even as he credited that fact with providing the inspiration for the 4-0 victory. “Scott’s last game was big for us in terms of finding motivation, coming towards the end of a season when there’s not a lot to play for,” he said. “It was quite easy tonight. Scott came out as captain for the last time at Celtic Park , so it was important that the team put in a performance that sent him off in the right manner. We knew he would come off after 60 minutes to make changes at that point, that was part of the plan. But the saddest thing was that if this was Scott Brown’s game the stadium would have been packed to the rafters and they would have been singing his name the whole game. That’s a shame but the world we live in.
‘He has decided to move on and certainly in the last few days he has spent more time around the offices of the building speaking to more people. It’s probably now that he has days left rather than weeks or months that it is hitting home that he should cherish what he has left. Certainly we will cherish what we have left for the final few days. What he has done as a player and a captain for this club is absolutely terrific and we have to be grateful.”