Aberdeen captain Graeme Shinnie has faith that Ryan Christie will force his way into Celtic’s first-team next season.
Shinnie has worked with Christie since he made his debut as a teenager at Inverness in 2013 and has watched him blossom into a senior Scotland international during his two loan spells with the Dons.
Christie has expressed a desire to try his luck again at Parkhead, with a year left on his contract and the league champions keen to tie him down for longer.
The 23-year-old has been loaned out three times since signing for Celtic in September 2015 and has made only 13 appearances for the first-team.
Shinnie said: “I have played with Ryan a long time and I know he has the ability. It is going to be tough when Celtic have had the last two seasons they have had. McGregor, Armstrong and Brown have been right in the middle of that.
“It is naturally going to be tough for Ryan but he definitely has the ability to go in and play. We have seen that over the last couple of years. Ryan has plenty of self belief – that is probably one of his strengths. He is confident in his own ability and he likes to get on the ball.
“I am guessing he will go back and try to work as hard as he can in pre-season to see if he can progress into the team.”
Christie made his senior debut for the Caley Jags against Celtic as an 18-year-old in December 2013 and went on to become a Scottish Cup winner – alongside Shinnie – in his first full season a year later. The pair also played alongside each other in Scotland’s end-of-season trips to Peru and Mexico.
Shinnie added: “As soon as he came into the team at Inverness I knew he had a great chance. When he first came in his attitude was excellent because he was so positive and confident.
“Sometimes young players can be a bit tentative going into a dressing room and maybe don’t express themselves as much as they maybe should. Right away you knew Ryan was something special and he has just gone from strength to strength. His time up here has done really well and will set him up nicely for going back to Celtic.
“His Scotland cap will help. All these things will help him because he is still learning as he goes along. He will only get better and better.”