Celtic is seeking a 10th-consecutive Scottish Premiership title this season and Cameron Harper very well could play a part in that.
The Sacramento native has worked his way up to Celtic’s first team this summer and is knocking on the door to make his senior debut in the next few weeks. Harper has been an unused substitute for Neil Lennon’s side in three matches this season, also being named to the bench in a 3-1 UEFA Champions League qualifying defeat to Ferencvaros last week.
With matches coming thick and fast for the defending Scottish champs, Harper could see that debut come soon after impressing Lennon in training.
“Cameron’s bulked up and looks physically better since lockdown. He’s impressed us a lot over the last 18 months,” Lennon said in a club interview.
“With his pace and power, he’s developing into a very good player and the kind of player we like at the club. He had a break during lockdown but he’s trained very well since coming back from America.”
Harper played with Celtic’s reserve team last season and now has a great opportunity to excel with the first team. The 18-year-old forward not only could earn minutes in several competitions, but he will learn from a proven winner in Lennon and several star players.
He may be inexperienced at the senior level, but Harper isn’t the only young player trying to crack the first team roster this season. Harper is one of 16 eligible players on Celtic’s roster that is 22-year-old or younger, with several already appearing in league action so far. Lennon has given young players opportunities in the past and could very well do more of the same with Harper.
“It’s important we give him an indication of the development path in front of him,” Lennon said. “Cameron and the other young boys are happy with what we’ve given them at the minute and we’re happy with how they’re progressing.”
Harper, a U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team prospect, has made three appearances internationally and has also trained with Gregg Berhalter’s side back in January. Not only will first team minutes help with his overall development, but it will keep him in strong consideration for the U-20’s when its schedule starts back.
Berhalter clearly liked what he saw from Harper, bringimg the Celtic winger to train with the first team a day later. The two had a long chat after training today: pic.twitter.com/a3yxy8a3E2
— Ives Galarcep (@SoccerByIves) January 17, 2020
Celtic continues its league schedule with three matches before entering the Europa League third qualifying round. Should he debut for Celtic this season, he will be the first American player since Timothy Weah in 2018 to feature for the club.