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Is Celtic’s Liel Abada replacement already in house?

Watch the two goals below and who does it remind you of?

Rocco Vata’s double for the Ireland u-21 side against San Marino look to be straight out of the Liel Abada show-reel.

The first is matching the forward run and anticipating the low cross to come in to score at the back post, the second is getting a glimpse of goal and firing in a shot that the goalkeeper isn’t getting near to.

With Abada injured on international duty Brendan Rodgers will have to find a replacement on the right wing but for a variety of reasons it doesn’t look like it will be Vata.

Young players at Celtic know that they are up against the odds to break through into the first team, with no real pathway it isn’t realistic to expect anyone to step up from playing in the Lowland League to being involved with the SPFL champions.

That situation has been allowed to fester, Celtic B’s reliance on Vata is obvious but has been to the detriment of the winger who after two seasons on the same old plastic pitches of the Lowland League refused to sign up for more of the same spiced up with a couple of cameo first team appearances.

With Marco Tilio, Yang Hyun-jun and Luis Palma signed during the summer Vata’s concerns for his progress have been justified which puts him and Brendan Rodgers in an awkward spot.

During his first spell in charge the Irishman gave Tony Ralston and Mikey Johnston starting roles in an end of season match against St Johnstone, proper game time, in from the start rather than a 10 or 15 minute run out when the game was over as a contest.

Similarly Calvin Miller was repositioned as a left-back before a strange change of loan club from Dundee to Ayr United and injury killed off his Celtic prospects.

Although the San Marino u-21 side are by definition very limited there is a certain quality to Vata’s goals, scored as an 18-year-old on his international debut at that level.

Since returning from Japan with the Celtic first team he has had to content himself with matches against sides like Caledonian Braves, Gala Fairydean, Cowdenbeath and Berwick Rangers.

Clearly he is miles better than that level, clubs in Italy and Belgium seem to agree with that assessment.

Someone needs to take a step back and resolve the current stand-off but it looks like the player and club are too far down the road to a parting of the ways.

Vata needs tested and pushed at a decent level but with Celtic investing in three wingers during the summer it is clear that the home-grown 18-year-old doesn’t feature in their plans.

Rodgers has inherited the situation but agreed to the three signings while he was assessing the squad.

Yang and Palma look like contesting for Abada’s place on Saturday against Dundee leaving Vata to get on with matches against West Ham and Feyenoord in the Premier League Cup and UEFA Youth League.

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