The World Cup hasn’t even finished yet, but already we’re all focusing on the 2018/19 season.
Most, if not all, clubs are back in pre-season already, with Scottish football outfits Celtic, Rangers and Hibs already competing in European competition.
So even though a lot of attention will be on France v Croatia in Sunday’s World Cup Final to close out the 2017/18 campaign officially, the coming one is already in the mind.
With that, we thought we’d take a look at what we can expect from young Scottish players this season and some that may be set to make an impact:
Dean Campbell – Aberdeen
Campbell is already well known to Aberdeen fans after making a number of appearances for the first team last year and regularly appearing in Derek McInnes’ squads. He’s been involved again throughout pre-season despite being just 17 and Aberdeen having a lot of quality options in midfield. But it’s clear McInnes rates Campbell – and his presence in the Scotland Under 17 team as well the Dons’ development team that went to the Youth Cup Final last season supports that. He’s being drip fed into the first team, but expect Campbell to be much more involved at Pittodrie this season.
Karamoko Dembele – Celtic
We first started hearing about Dembele as a tiny 13-year-old after he appeared as a substitute in a development league game for Celtic back in 2016. Since then, he’s continued starring for the club’s youth teams, attracted the interest of other big sides, tied up with Nike and amassed himself 175,000 followers on Instagram. He’s also starred for Scotland’s youth teams, but is currently involved in a tug of war with England over who he will play for at international level. There’s no doubt the young winger is in demand. He’s 15 and will turn 16 in February of next year so rumours about his club future should intensify as he nears the minimum age for signing a professional contract and going full-time. But if Dembele decides his future is at Celtic, you’d expect Brendan Rodgers would be tempted to reward him with a first team appearance between now and the end of the season – and that would be huge considering the hype around the youngster at the moment.
Dapo Mebude – Rangers
If you haven’t seen Mebude in action then you should get along to a Rangers youth team game or familiarise yourself with the 16-year-old’s Twitter and YouTube highlights. A quick, tricky and effective striker, Mebude has been impressing regularly for the club’s development team and is a Scotland international at Under 16 and Under 17 level already. You only have to look at the presence of Glenn Middleton in Rangers’ squads so far this season to see that Steven Gerrard will give youth a chance and Mebude will no doubt have his eye on earning a top team debut from the Gers manager this season. We could definitely see it with this talent.
Billy Gilmour – Chelsea
We’re not saying Gilmour will make the breakthrough at Chelsea as we all know how tough that would be, but his outstanding performances for Scotland at the Toulon Tournament show he’s ready for first team football somewhere at some level. You have to remember he only turned 17 last month yet is a star in an international age group four years above his own – and he deserves to be playing there after helping Chelsea’s youth team win four trophies last season. If Gilmour doesn’t play first team football this season then we’ll be shocked. If he ends up getting a Scotland call-up at some stage, we wouldn’t be surprised.
Ethan Erhahon – St Mirren
Erhahon may be the real unknown on this list considering he’s breaking through at St Mirren, who are only now returning to the Scottish Premiership. But for Buddies fans, they’ll know all about the highly-rated 17-year-old midfielder. He’s St Mirren’s youngest ever player after appearing in a Challenge Cup match against Raith Rovers at the start of last season. Since then, he played a part in the squad that won the Championship under Jack Ross and looks like he’ll be involved under new boss Alan Stubbs too. Erhahon is a Scotland youth international like the rest on this list and counts recent Scotland call-up Lewis Morgan as a fan. We’d fully expect him to become a real first team player under Stubbs this season, although he may have to wait a little longer to really earn the trust of his new manager.
Scottish fans – who are you expecting a lot from this season?