Steve Clarke lifts lid on Greg Taylor's Celtic rise as Scotland boss recalls Kilmarnock turning point

An insight into Greg Taylor’s inner strength from a very different time left Scotland manager Steve Clarke convinced the Celtic full-back possessed the resolve to rise to any challenge.

The in-form defender is in line to occupy the left wing-back role for his country in their forthcoming Nations League triple header as a consequence of captain Andy Robertson’s injury-absence. Taylor has positioned himself to be this understudy through transforming perceptions of him in the past 18 months of his three-and-a-bit seasons with the Scottish champions. The growing appreciation of the 24-year-old’s talents is no surprise to his former Kilmarnock manager Clarke, whom he blossomed under before both moved on at the end of the 2018-19 season.

“When he moved to Celtic he had some early criticism but I know his character,” said Clarke. “He just dug in, learned a way to play and I know the current manager is very happy with him. He’s improving all the time Greg, which is great to see. I always thought he would. I remember quite early days after I took over at Kilmarnock. [In December 2017] I took him all the way up to Ross County and left him on the bench. Stuart Findlay was playing left-back and got injured after half an hour. I sent Greg on [at half-time] and he did really well. I said to him after the game, “Well done, that was good”. And he said, “I’m not going back out the team again, gaffer.” And he was right. He’s a good character.

“That’s what you want. Players who are always willing to meet the challenge head on. Greg’s always done that. Even on his Scotland debut [when] I threw him in against Belgium away [in June 2019]. We lost the game but he acquitted himself really well against Eden Hazard and Kevin de Bruyne. That’s just the type of player he is and I hope he can stay on the same level.”

Celtic's Greg Taylor is expected to deputise for injured Scotland captain Andy Robertson at left wing-back in the forthcoming Nations League matches. (Photo by Rob Casey / SNS Group)
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