11 academy stars Celtic let go, including Bannan and Hickey

Liam Henderson of Celtic in action against Den Bosch  during the Pre Season Friendly between Celtic and De Bosch at St Mirren Park on  July 01, 2015 in Paisley, Scotland.

The likes of Dylan McGeouch, Barry Bannan and James McCarthy all spent time with Scottish Premiership champions Celtic in their younger days.

Celtic might have one of the most prosperous academies anywhere in Britain but not every fresh-faced starlet makes the grade at Parkhead.


The Hoops pushed all of these players out of the door but would any get in Neil Lennon's starting XI now?

David Marshall

A clean sheet against a star-studded Barcelona side featuring Xavi, Carles Puyol and Phillip Cocu? A 19-year-old David Marshall, standing in for the injured Rab Douglas, probably thought life couldn’t get any better after a dramatic UEFA Cup clash in 2004. Until, of course, he saved a Ronaldinho penalty the following season.

Celtic's goalkeeper David Marshall makes a save during the Scottish premier league match between Rangers and Celtic at Ibrox Stadium on March 28, 2004 in Glasgow, Scotland.

Those stellar showings against the Catalan king might have been the pinnacle of Marshall’s Celtic career but, now 34, the current Wigan number one will be better remembered for his exploits south of the border.

It’s testament to his enduring quality that he’s still Scotland’s first-choice ‘keeper.

Darnell Fisher

An honourable mention must go to Kilmarnock’s Stephen O’Donnell, who has been frequently linked with a return to Parkhead after establishing himself as a Scotland international (Daily Record).

But Fisher gets the nod in our selection, purely because he is one of the most exciting full-backs in one of the Championship’s most exciting teams. After making just 21 appearances for Celtic, Fisher was let go by Brendan Rodgers after failing to unseat Mikael Lustig. Celtic’s loss is Preston North End’s game.

Jack Hendry

Hendry might be wearing the number four shirt for Celtic these days but he was forced to take the long route to a first-team debut in the iconic Hoops. After catching the eye of Rodgers during an October 2017 clash between Celtic and Dundee, the giant centre-back was on his way back to the club he left in 2011 for £1.5 million the following winter.

Now out of favour under Neil Lennon, it seems only a matter of time before Celtic discard Hendry for a second time.

Stuart Findlay

Findlay might have captained Celtic at U17 level but stand-out performances at youth level weren’t enough to earn him a first ever senior appearance in green and white.

Arnaldo Sanabria of FC Barcelona Youth and Stuart Findlay of Celtic Youth

Three years after being released by The Hoops, and with a short-lived spell at Newcastle United under his belt, Findlay is now on the verge of a maiden Scotland cap after helping Kilmarnock qualify for Europe for the first time in 18 years.

Aaron Hickey

It’s always a good sign when Pep Guardiola wants you. Just days after firing home a late winner in an Edinburgh derby victory over Hibernian, Hickey’s dream week got even better when reports emerged, via The Sun, saying he was a target for Premier League champions Manchester City.

Given that Celtic spent over £5 million this summer on new left-backs, letting Hickey go to Hearts in 2018 looks like a mistake. At least they had the good sense to put a 30 per cent sell-on clause in his contract.

James McCarthy

A combative enforcer who combines ball-winning and ball-playing, McCarthy has recovered from a long spell on the sidelines with a broken leg to make a big impact at Premier League high-flyers Crystal Palace.

According to TEAMtalk, McCarthy was hoping to seal a dream return to his boyhood club in January of this year but he was forced to stay at Everton instead, picking up splinters on the substitutes bench before Palace offered him a fresh start.

Barry Bannan

Bannan was just 14 when his time at Celtic came to an end. But, 15 years on, the playmaker continues to show his old club what they’re missing, fulfilling his vast potential in the blue and white stirpes of Sheffield Wednesday.

A technically gifted midfielder with a pass like a laser guided missile, Bannan is arguably the best deep-lying playmaker in the Championship on his day, orchestrating things at the heart of Garry Monk’s team.

Dylan McGeouch

(THE SUN OUT & THE SUN ON SUNDAY OUT) Jose Enrique of Liverpool competes with Dylan McGeouch of Celtic during a Pre Season friendly against Celtic and Liverpool at Aviva Stadium on August...

Not many players go from Celtic to Rangers and back again but, when Neil Lennon knocked on McGeouch’s door back in 2011, the Glasgow-born pass-master didn’t wait twice to turn his back the blues.

McGeouch’s best displays came in the colours of Hibernian, however, where he formed a superb midfield partnership with John McGinn before leaving for Sunderland.

Jackson Irvine

Celtic obviously didn’t see much in Irvine when they allowed the rangy attacker to leave for Ross County after just a single league appearance. These days, he is an established Championship midfielder with Hull City and a 31-time Australia international to boot.

He’s a reliable source of goals these days too, timing those late runs into the penalty area to perfection to find the net six times for Hull in 2018/19.

Liam Henderson

Liam Henderson of Celtic in action against Den Bosch  during the Pre Season Friendly between Celtic and De Bosch at St Mirren Park on  July 01, 2015 in Paisley, Scotland.

Why on earth Rodgers didn’t trust a young, technically gifted pass-master with an eye for a defence-splitting through ball is anyone’s guess. Henderson looked perfectly suited to the former Liverpool boss.

Still only 23-year-old, Henderson is now ageing well in wine country, starting a pair of Serie A games for newly promoted Hellas Verona this season.

Eamonn Brophy

Brophy was apparently ‘too small’ to make the grade at Celtic but his stocky, diminutive stature has not stopped the barnstorming forward from making a real impact at Kilmarnock and forcing his way into the Scotland national team.

Brophy fired home 12 goals for Killie last season as they finished third and his brilliant solo effort against Celtic in September highlighted everything good about one of the country’s rising stars; speed, skill and a thunderbolt shot.

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