AT this stage last summer, few would have predicted the impact that Ryan Christie would go on to have for Celtic last season upon his return to his parent club from Aberdeen. In fact, many may have been surprised that he would still be at the club at all 12 months on.

A couple of injuries aside though, the 24-year-old made a huge impression on Celtic’s campaign, and now teammate Lewis Morgan is hoping to follow in his teammate’s footsteps after his own productive loan spell at Sunderland.

The former St Mirren man is hoping to be the latest name - after the likes of Christie, Callum McGregor and Kristoffer Ajer - to force their way into first-team contention after benefitting from temporary moves away from Celtic Park.

“Of course [Christie’s an inspiration],” Morgan said. “Callum McGregor did it as well, so did Kris Ajer.

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“They went out and improved by playing week in and week out and getting games in their legs. Then they went back and really pushed for the team.

“That’s what I am aiming to do now. I didn’t want to do it this way. I wanted to go and play straight away. But I had a great six months down the road and I am excited to come back up.

“It was good [at Sunderland]. I had knee surgery at the start of the season and it took time for me to get back to where I wanted to be. I had to go out to get games in my legs again. It’s been a positive because it’s got me back into the international scene, but I still feel there are levels to come from me.”

He is hoping that his new manager, Neil Lennon, agrees.

“He gave my agent a ring and spoke to him,” Morgan said. “It has been quite a quick turnover for him and I am sure he has been busy.

“The club have done really well, getting the treble Treble which is obviously unprecedented, so I am looking forward to going back in and working with him.

“Of course, there is big competition. I knew when signing for the club that it was going to be like that.

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“But I am looking at it in the way that it helps everyone improve if we are fighting over two spots. You always need to be at your best. If that helps push me on, then it can only be a good thing.

“I still back myself. I was obviously disappointed with the game time and how it went, but I went out, got games and now I’m looking forward to going back.

“The aim is to play, it always has to be the aim. Being part of things week in and week out is what you want to do.

“If you can get into that Celtic team then hopefully you can be part of things with Scotland as well.”

And it is to the national team that Morgan’s attention has turned this week after he made the cut for Steve Clarke’s first squad, as Scotland look to get their Euro 2020 qualification campaign back on track against Cyprus and Belgium in the coming days.

Morgan was given his international bow by previous manager Alex McLeish during the much-maligned pre-season trip to South America last summer, and while he admits it was a difficult task on the pitch against Mexico and Peru, it was one worth taking on.

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“I played in both the games and obviously that was a great experience for myself,” he said.

“I remember at the time there were some people saying it wasn’t really a worthwhile exercise, but it certainly was for the boys who came in and got experience.

“You can see some of those boys have stayed involved in the squad, with Scott Bain, Jon McLaughlin, Graeme Shinnie and Stephen O’Donnell. From that aspect, we were able to blood some players who have taken their chance.

“The games were tough. We were playing against two good sides who had qualified for the World Cup. Okay, we didn’t get the results we wanted but performance-wise I thought we did well.

“You don’t want to be involved because of call-offs. You want to be involved in the manager’s thoughts at first.

“These games are pivotal and training has been really good.”