Celtic ‘B’ team star Joey Dawson reflects on making shock first-team debut during 3-1 Boxing Day win over St Johnstone

The 18-year-old striker came on as an early first-half substitute for Kyogo Furuhashi in Perth

18-year-old striker Joey Dawson made his Celtic first-team debut as a first-half substitute against St Johnstone

Joey Dawson received an unexpected late Christmas present when the Celtic youngster was called up to the first-team squad and came off the bench to make his debut in the 3-1 Boxing Day win over St Johnstone.

The 18-year-old striker, who has starred for the Hoops ‘B’ team in the Lowland League this season, was subbed on after just 15 minutes at McDiarmid Park after another hamstring injury forced Kyogo Furuhashi off injured.

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Celtic's Kyogo Furuhashi shows his exasperation over the problem that forced off early into his team's 3-1 win away to St Johnstone. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

Ange Postecoglou’s side was severely depleted for the trip to Perth through injuries and Covid-related issues, meaning that Dawson and various other Academy players were drafted in to fill the bench.

Signed on a three-year-deal from Scunthorpe United in June, Dawson became the latest youngster to be handed his senior debut, following in the footsteps of the likes of Adam Montgomery and Owen Moffat this season.

The Englishman was denied a dream goal after lobbing the ball over Elliot Parish but the stand-in Saints goalkeeper managed to recover in the nick of time to claw the ball away to safety.

Describing the moment when his number was raised on the fourth official’s board to replace Kyogo, the Dawson admitted: “It felt unbelievable. It’s a very proud moment for me and my family.

“I’ve come a long way in a short space of time and I’ve just got to keep going, keep grounded and keep working hard to hopefully get some more appearances.

“Tommy (McIntyre), the B team manager rang me on December 23 and said I can’t go home for Christmas because the first-team might need me, which initially was bittersweet but it was all worth it.

Celtic B manager Tommy McIntyre wants his team's precence in the Lowland League to create a "halfway" between youth and senior level at the club. (Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group)

“I thought I played OK, the most important thing is the team got the win. It’s another three point to keep us in the title race.

“I was devastated (not to score). I don’t know how the keeper has got there. After I dinked the ball over him I thought it was in but somehow he’s stretched and managed to clear it off the line.

“Making my Celtic debut at such a young age, it’s massive for my confidence. It’s obviously a great honour but like I said I just need to keep working hard and hopefully there’s more to come.

Asked if he expected to be called up to the first-team this season, Dawson stated: “Honestly, probably not but in football anything can happen. That’s why I’ve got to be ready to take my chance and hopefully I did that.

“Having a taste of it has given me the feeling to want more, keep making appearances and playing well, whether that be for the B team or the first-team.

“I just need to keep doing the best I can and scoring more goals.”

His uncle - former Tottenham and Hull City defender Michael Dawson - was working as a pundit for Sky Sports when his nephew was thrust into action.

Reacting to the moment live on air, Dawson said: “Here he is, debut. Big centre-forward - I bet he’ll score more than me!

“Proud moment for him. His mum and dad will be watching.

“He would have been at Spurs today, going down to watch them. How the Christmas period has changed for them. Proud, Proud moment for him.”

Dawson will not make a speedy return to action for the Celtic B team after their eagerly anticipated Old Firm derby clash with Rangers is OFF and will be rescheduled when fans are allowed to attend.

A statement released by the Ibrox club said: “Rangers can confirm that the Old Firm B team game scheduled on 31st December has been postponed.

“Tickets purchased can be retained and used for the revised fixture. A new date will be communicated in due course.

“One of the key objectives and benefits of our involvement in the Lowland League is to expose our young players to playing in front of large crowds during games especially an Old Firm.

“We look forward to rescheduling this game and thank supporters for their understanding.”

A first-half double from Liel Abada had Celtic in total control until Chris Kane halved the deficit in Perth but midfielder Nir Bitton put the result beyond doubt when he lashed in a late third goal to send the Hoops into the winter break six points adrift of leaders Rangers.