Former Celtic striker Charlie Nicholas is backing Ange Postecoglou to make Alistair Johnston a success at Parkhead but fears the Canada international will be a downgrade on Josip Juranovic, speaking to the Scottish Express. 

As Nicholas himself points out, Postecoglou probably deserves the benefit of the doubt. 

After all, it’s fair to say Kyogo Furuhashi, Liel Abada, Jota, Reo Hatate and Matt O’Riley – to name but five – had their fair share of doubters before helping Celtic snatch the Premiership title off the heads of bitter rivals Rangers last season. 

And if Postecoglou wants Johnston at Parkhead, then he obviously sees something special in the 24-year-old right-back. One who, according to the Daily Record, has been lined up to replace the much-coveted Juranovic in green-and-white. 

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Celtic set to sign Canada’s Alistair Johnston as Josip Juranovic replacement

“I’ve not seen anything in Alistair Johnston that would suggest he’s at the same level as the right-back he will potentially replace at Celtic; Josip Juranovic,” Nicholas says. “In fact, I’m not sure if the Canadian international is any better than Anthony Ralston.  

“However, I have to trust Ange Postecoglou’s judgment. He hasn’t got a lot wrong in the transfer market for Celtic. And he has a track record of improving players.  

“Johnston is obviously a player Postecoglou likes the look of and the Aussie must believe that the £3 million outlay represents a sound investment. But I can’t say it is a signing that excites me.” 

According to the Record, Celtic are confident of making Johnston their second January signing. The Hoops have already sealed a deal for another Japanese talent; former Vissel Kobe centre-back Yuki Kobayashi. 

The versatile Johnston produced four goals and four assists during the 2022 MLS season at Montreal CF. He’s impressing, meanwhile, with his aggression and flexibility for an exciting Canada side at the Qatar World Cup. 

“He’ll see a lot more of the ball at Celtic,” Nicholas adds. “And will be expected to do far more attacking up the right wing. “At 24, he is a good age with good attributes. So, if Postecoglou can make him a better player, then his market value will only increase. 

“Either way, it looks like Juranovic’s days at Parkhead are numbered.” 

‘He’s very aggressive’

Johnston has spent just one season at Montreal CF in North America. He joined the Canadian outfit from Nashville SC for a bargain £800,000 just 12 months ago.

“I think he is one who would suit the Scottish Premiership. He’s very quick, he’s very aggressive and I think he would flourish because of the type of player he is. He’s so competitive,” argues Canada legend Colin Miller (Express).

“As much as I hate to say it, I think he would be a good signing for Celtic. 

“What you saw from Alistair in the Belgium game is what you will get in every game. He can undoubtedly play right back because he has the athleticism to get up and down, and he is also very ambitious going forward. 

“And unlike so many defenders these days, he seems to really enjoy defending and he loves a tackle. As I say, he would be a great signing for Celtic.” 

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