Since completing his move to Celtic as a free agent in 2021, it is fair to say James McCarthy had a stop-start 2021/22 campaign at Parkhead.
Constant injury niggles hindered the 31-year-old significantly as he looked to make an impact under Ange Postecoglou, limiting him to just 22 appearances across all competitions in the Hoops.
Nevertheless, certain circumstances and the opportunity to impress in pre-season could pave the way for McCarthy to play a key role in 2022/23. Currently, Celtic lack numbers in midfield, following the departures of experienced bodies such as Tom Rogic and Nir Bitton at the tail end of last season.
Ismaila Soro continues to be linked with a loan exit from the cinch Premiership champions this summer, with Partizan Belgrade rumored to be amongst the front-runners to sign the 24-year-old according to Football Scotland.
Should the unfancied Ivorian become a summer casualty under Ange Postecoglou, it could clear the decks for James McCarthy to become an unlikely redemption-arc story in Glasgow’s East End.
Premier League experience could help McCarthy turn things around at Celtic
Despite his lack of involvement at Celtic last season, James McCarthy has a wealth of experience at the elite level, making 271 appearances in the Premier League across spells at Wigan Athletic, Everton, and Crystal Palace.
The Irishman has regularly held his own against the best the English top-flight has to offer over the years, something that could be a distinctively positive quality for Celtic as they prepare for UEFA Champions League football in 2022/23.
Though McCarthy is unlikely to start most games, there is potential for him to be a key player in Ange Postecoglou’s game-management going forward, helping to keep the ball ticking over in midfield and control the tempo in the latter stages of high-stakes affairs when necessary.
Of course, this is dependent on his ability to steer clear of injury, something that has now dogged his career for a number of years.
In the next few weeks, we will get an idea of the role McCarthy will play in this campaign as Celtic kick-off their pre-season camp in Austria.