It’s Make Or Break This Month For Celtic’s Gary Mackay-Steven

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Celtic managed to cram nine fixtures into the month of December. So I’m betting the squad will be thankful for their winter break and a chance to train in the Dubai sun.

The Scottish Premiership champions once again top the table and are a whopping nineteen points ahead of their nearest ‘challengers’ (a loose term this season).

But it hasn’t been great for all the players in Brendan Rodgers pool. As the new manager revitalised many within his squad and added some fresh talent into the ranks, others have been on the outside looking in.

None more so than winger Gary Mackay-Steven.

Mackay-Steven joined Celtic in the winter of 2015 along with fellow Dundee United star Stuart Armstrong. But while Armstrong has been superb under Rodgers, Mackay-Steven has been injured and now fit he can’t break back into the starting eleven. In that busy December, Mackay-Steven only received 138 minutes of game time and only once did he start.

During his absence at the start of the campaign, New signing Scott Sinclair has become a sensation to the Parkhead faithful. The former Man City and Swansea man has been a cut above the rest in Scottish football with his runs, creativity and his goals.

Before Rodgers arrived at Celtic Park, James Forrest looked to be a spent force and seemed destined for a move away in order to kickstart his career.

But all that has changed for Forrest, the wingman has had twenty-four outings so far this term. Ten of those appearances came in Celtic’s Champions League tilt. If it’s a big game, then Rodgers is inclined to select James and that tells you that the Celtic gaffer trusts the Scottish international. He’s repaid the faith shown in him with his six goal return. He also signed a three year contract extension earlier in the season.

Then you have the precocious talent that is Patrick Roberts.

The teenager, on loan from Manchester City, has also made more than twenty appearances for the Hoops this year. Roberts is a player that can unlock the tights defences and also has a keen eye for goal. He might only be a Celt until the end of this current campaign but I can’t see Rodgers not playing the gifted star just because of that detail.

So it might seem like an impossible task for Mackay-Steven, when he thinks of ways to get himself starting regularly again for the Glasgow side.

Injuries might help him, but you cannot wait hoping for a teammate to suffer from a bad knock so you can take their place.

Then there’s the Scottish Cup and the fact that Celtic are so far in front in the league that Brendan might rotate more in the second half of the season. But at twenty-five can Mackay-Steven afford to wait and see?

A big bonus for the tricky winger is that it’s Brendan Rodgers that’s in charge at Hoops. He’s a manager known to giving players another chance to impress him and he’ll reward those that get their head down and do well when they are given their opportunities.

Rodgers has praised Gary in the past month:

“Gary Mackay-Steven is really up to speed in terms of his fitness and I am actually looking forward to seeing Gary play.”

If I were Gary Mackay-Steven I’d use January as my make or break month at Parkhead.

Train hard in Dubai and then ask the manager if you figure in his plans. If you get a chance in the three games before the transfer window shuts then that will give you an indication if you have a longterm future at Celtic. If you do get the chances, then you’ve got to take them!

If you’re only used sparingly or worse, not at all, then it really could be time to ask for a move away.

Look at the English Championship or even a foreign league if it’s a permanent deal. If it’s a loan then maybe stay in the Scottish Premiership and that way you can try and prove yourself to your Celtic employers all over again.

At this stage of his career, Mackay-Steven needs to be a first team regular.

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