Josip Juranovic awed by Celtic strength in depth as he tips ‘great person’ Kyogo to make late title race impact

Kyogo Furuhashi, David Turnbull, Matt O’Riley, Liel Abada and James McCarthy all came on as subs in Celtic’s 7-0 demolition of St Johnstone on Saturday.

Tony Ralston and Nir Bitton didn’t even get their shinnies strapped up.

And that strength in depth is the reason, in Josip Juranovic’s opinion, why Celtic left Parkhead nine points clear with a domestic unbeaten run stretched to 33 games,

They’ve been the benchmark this season and their bench is marked with some serious talent that keeps every player at the top of their game, the Croatian international right back insists.

Juranovic scored from the penalty spot as Ange Postecoglou’s team ran riot against the relegation-threatened Perth outfit who could have easily gone home with a double digit defeat, such was Celtic’s superiority.

The fact that three of the seven were scored by substitutes – O’Riley getting two of them with Abada chipping in with his 15th of a hugely impressive first season – wasn’t lost on Juranovic, who also saw Kyogo sparkle in his 20 minute cameo .

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The former Legia Warsaw defender believes that strength in depth is the driving force behind the astonishing, relentless run that has left the rest gasping in their slipstream.

He said: “There is competition for places but we don’t see it like we are fighting each other. We have friendships and we will give everything for each other on the pitch.

“It doesn’t matter if I am on the bench and Anthony Ralston is playing, we know we have that quality player playing instead.

“That’s what happens at a big club like Celtic. We know we need to continue this now.

“We have a lot of players in the squad and you only have to look at the bench against St Johnstone.

“We have boys who can come on and make the difference for us. There is such strength and depth in the team.

“Even in training every day, the boys have to be at their best as we are fighting to get a place in the team.

“Because of that it helps the team reach high standards.


“Kyogo is back. He is a great person and you can see everyone loves him here.

“He is an amazing player and he could be so important to us for the rest of the season.

“I don’t want to put pressure on him but we know he, like every player, will give everything for the club.

“If we do that then we will be successful.

“We are going game by game and we are only thinking about the three points. The most important thing is the next game.

“We were sixth in the table at one point this season but now we are first and we want to stay there.

“Was it an emphatic performance against St Johnstone? And it is.

“Now we have to continue like that for the rest of the season.”

Juranovic’s penalty was his fifth conversion from the spot this season – and a 100 percent record.

That, he insisted with a smile, makes him the main man and HE’LL decides if he hands over the duties to one of his team-mates, they should be looking for a landmark goal.

“I have scored five penalties out of five so I have to be happy with that.

Josip Juranović

“I practice in training all the time and it is paying off right now. It is going well and I want to keep it that way.

“I don’t really have a technique or mindset, it is all about practice being perfect for me.

“I know some of the other players might want to take them but they know for now I am first choice.

“If someone, like Giorgos (Giakoumakis) or Kyogo had two goals and was going for a hat-trick I might step aside and let them take the penalty.

“But that’s up to me if I want to let them do it or I take it myself – it depends on the circumstances.”

That situation is for another day. In the here and now, Juranovic is thrilled with the manner in which his team dismantled St Johnstone ahead of another huge Old Firm clash in the Scottish Cup semi final on Sunday – and he’s confident Hampden will continue to hold nothing but happy memories for him.

I added: “We were ruthless. From the first minute we played our own game and the manager said to us it was all about pass, touch, pass, touch.

“Even though it was 3-0 at half-time we still didn’t stop doing those things and we were able to get another four goals in the second half.

“We have the mentality of going for more goals in every game and that’s the sign of a winning team.

“We are playing with a lot of confidence right now.

“I can’t wait for the semi-final. I enjoy playing at the national stadium and it holds lots of good memories for me.

“I obviously played when Croatia beat Scotland at the Euros last summer.

“That was great for me, but maybe not for Scotland!

“We also won the (Premier Sports) Cup there as well, so I like to play there.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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