Dylan is waiting in the Celtic wings

PATIENCE is not just a virtue for young players playing with top clubs these days, it is a necessity.

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McGeouch netted his first and only goal of the season so far in Celtic's 5-0 crushing of Dundee
McGeouch netted his first and only goal of the season so far in Celtic's 5-0 crushing of Dundee

Few emerge from academies and immediately consolidate their status as first-team stars, and Dylan McGeough is no different.

The 20-year-old has endured a frustrating campaign thus far, with a nasty injury sustained during a glamour pre-season clash with Real Madrid at the start of the campaign ruling him out for several weeks, putting him on the back foot in his bid to win a starting berth.

With a sizeable squad at his disposal, Hoops manager Neil Lennon has plenty of options to choose from, particularly in the forward areas in which McGeough operates, leaving the former Rangers youngster on the fringes of the action for much of the campaign.

A well-taken goal and all-round encouraging display against Dundee on Sunday was a timely reminder to his gaffer of what he can do on his day.

With an SPL trip to Fir Park tonight, a William Hill Scottish Cup quarter-final against St Mirren on Saturday and their daunting Champions League second-leg tie with Juventus next week, the Hoops squad will be fully utilised.

And McGeough hopes he can grab any chance to shine as the Parkhead boss looks to his fringe stars.

"I have not been playing as much as I would have liked," he admitted. "I have played a few reserve games and have been coming off the bench for the first team, so it is all about getting more starts.

"Sometimes when you get on as a sub, we are a couple of goals up and the game is all but finished.

"It is hard to then try and make an impact in the game if there is no tempo to it.

"On the other hand, if we are pushing for a goal and the manager puts you on it can be a bit frantic and you don't get much time on the ball to try and impress.

"That is part of the process of being a young player at a big club like Celtic.

"I just need to keep trying to impress and knocking on the door of the first team and hopefully I will get more chances."

It is not just McGeough who has had to wait patiently for his chance to shine this season, with fellow forwards James Forrest and Tony Watt also not seeing as much match action as they would have liked, courtesy of a series of different factors.

With the SPL title all-but wrapped up, the pressure will soon be eased on Celtic and Lennon should be presented with the opportunity to rest some of his more tried-and-trusted stars for longer periods.

McGeough could be one of the main beneficiaries of that scenario and the midfielder is keen to prove a point – and his potential.

He said: "It is frustrating because I want to play every minute of every game.

"It is hard when you train all week and then don't play on a Saturday so any game time I get is great.

"It is part of being a young boy coming through the ranks, though. Celtic are a big club and we have a lot of big games so the manager has to pick his strongest XI.

"It is up to me to keep trying to impress and catch the eye so I can get in his plans on a more regular basis.

"If you are good enough, you are old enough. The fans like seeing the young boys coming through the ranks and into the team and they have been great with myself, Tony and James.

"It is a fantastic club for a young player to be at. The manager has to keep the more experienced boys sharp, though. It is about getting the balance right."

While McGeough may be trying to haul himself up the Parkhead pecking order, his Lennoxtown peer Forrest has already showcased his talents in the first-team on a regular basis.

The winger has endured a stop-start campaign thus far but now has the closing weeks of the campaign to try and hit top gear once again.

McGeough said: "It is pleasing to see James back after his injury problems.

"There is a buzz now that he is back, he has had a hard time through injuries unfortunately.

"It has been difficult for him but hopefully he is back now and he can get a good run of games without injury.

"Everyone is happy to have him back."

It is not just the domestic scene that McGeough has sampled this season, with the youngster tasting the electric atmosphere of European action after being named in the Hoops squad for their Champions League campaign.

He also saw fellow Celtic protege Watt write his name into the history books with the winning goal against Barcelona in the group stage tie at Parkhead.

And while a starting jersey in Turin may be outwith his reach, that hasn't stopped the Milton Bhoy from dreaming of what the future could hold.

McGeough, who will hope to land his 11th appearance of the season in the green and white hoops tonight, said: "I was on the bench against Barcelona and it was a great experience to be involved with the squad.

"The atmosphere around the club was great, there was a real buzz in the changing room so it was a real treat to be around the team.

"You grow up watching these guys at major championships and in Europe.

"To then have the chance to play against them is unbelievable.

"If the opportunity came up it would be excellent and something I would always remember.

"That is the standard you want to and need to reach to be involved at that level."

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