There might be considered a curious subtext to Saturday’s Scottish Cup tie between Aberdeen and St Mirren. The encounter will be a stand-off between Celtic loanees: Pittodrie attacker Ryan Christie and the Paisley club’s winger Lewis Morgan both in that bracket.
Morgan may have only acquired that status the other week following the £300,000 deal agreed with the Championship leaders that allowed the 21-year-old to remain at St Mirren for the rest of this season.
Morgan enjoyed his first concerted spell of first-team involvement at the Paisley club when Davie Farrell was assistant to Alex Rae in 2016. Morgan might be the newest Celtic arrival, but Farrell believes his attributes could place him higher up Brendan Rodgers’ pecking order than Christie, pictured – despite the fact it was back 2015 he pitched up at the Scottish champions, loan spells with selling club Inverness and Aberdeen having accounted for most of the three years since.
Farrell believes the fleet-footed Morgan has a mammoth challenge to become a Celtic regular when he joins up with Brendan Rodgers’ side next season. Yet, he considers the challenge faced by Christie is more pronounced because he does not have Morgan’s bust of acceleration.
“I think the fact that Ryan Christie is Aberdeen’s best player tells you that it takes a hell of a lot more to then be a regular at Celtic,” said the former Hibs, Partick and Airdrie defender.
“He does well with Aberdeen and plays most weeks, and yet he still can’t get into Celtic’s team. I think the reason that Ryan Christie doesn’t get in there is because he doesn’t have that extra burst of pace. Brendan Rodgers is well documented in saying that every player in the Celtic team has to be able to run. Until Ryan perhaps gets Lewis Morgan’s pace, then he might never get himself a place in Celtic’s first team.”
Farrell considers that the Pittodrie tie will be looked at by Morgan “‘as a good measure of what he could maybe do next season as it will be the first test for him at that level since signing for Celtic”. He offers a caveat, though.
“I remember that Lewis went to play against England under-21s a few months ago and he was the best player on the pitch in the second half despite being on the losing side. Not just with Scotland. He was actually the best on the pitch – better than a lot of the England players. So he will have a confidence in himself at the moment and if he goes up there and doesn’t have a great game against Aberdeen, I don’t think that will be able to knock him too much in terms of his future with Celtic.”
◆ David Farrell was speaking at a William Hill media event. William Hill is the proud sponsor of the Scottish Cup.