St Johnstone’s Aaron Comrie showing there is life after Celtic

Celtic's Scott Sinclair is tackled by Aaron Comrie (left) and Liam Craig

Liverpool’s Andy Robertson is the highest profile current example of how good life can be after Celtic for a young footballer.

And St Johnstone’s Aaron Comrie is now hoping to show that he too can thrive as a top level player after being cut free by the Glasgow club in his teens.

The 20-year-old, who was on the same flank of the Celtic Park pitch on Saturday as one of his youth team Parkhead peers, Kieran Tierney, played his part in an excellent Perth performance that earned a point against the champions.

Now the plan is to repay Tommy Wright’s faith in him on a regular basis.

“I was at Celtic from nine to about 17,” said Comrie.

“I don’t think too much about leaving Celtic. I’m happy at St Johnstone.

“Chris McCart let me go. I think it was one of those things where one had to go out for one to come in. At a club like Celtic there’s always boys coming through so there’s no hard feelings.

“It’s not the be all and end all. I’m just happy to be getting a chance at St Johnstone. Playing first team football is what it’s all about.

“I’d love to cement a place and play for the rest of the season.”

Baptisms don’t come much more fiery than this one. Tierney is the man of the moment, being talked about as the best talent Scotland has produced for decades. And his left-side partner is Scott Sinclair, last season’s player of the year.

Between Comrie – who was played at right-back in his first start – and Richard Foster – pushed one forward – they did a good a job of negating the Tierney-Sinclair threat. They did start to get a bit over-run when Celtic were throwing everything at securing a late winner, though.

“We had a game-plan,” Comrie explained. “Fozzy was to stay with Kieran and I was to stay with Sinclair. It worked well.

“That was relentless that last 15 minutes. I felt fine up until then. Every time he (Sinclair) was getting the ball I was thinking ‘oh no’.

“My legs were done by the end. I’ll not be the first player to say that after a game like that at Celtic Park, though.

“Scott Sinclair is a top player. He’s got such quick feet. And Kieran has been flying. I used to play with him when I was a youth player at Celtic so I know what he’s all about. He deserves all the praise he’s getting.”

He might not have got much sleep the night before the match but Comrie looked at home in the company he was keeping at Celtic Park.

“I was actually OK the night before the game,” he said. “I coped better than I thought I would. I only got a bit of sleep but, apart from that, I just tried to keep my mind off the game.

“We did a bit of shape on Thursday and I had a wee idea I might be in. Then the gaffer told me I was starting on Friday morning.

“I know the manager has got belief in me. I’m grateful that he has the trust to put me in a big game like Celtic away and I’m glad I could pay him back.

“I had experienced guys around me like Ando, Joe, Easty and Fozzy.

“That was a brilliant performance and a brilliant result. What a place to come and get a point. The boys were different class.

“I thought we were brilliant from start to finish. It was a hard game but it was certainly worth it in the end.”

It was anything but a textbook start for Comrie and his team as, with less than a minute played, he clashed heads with team-mate Murray Davidson. The midfielder lost consciousness for a short time (but was recovering well in hospital by the time the match was finished) and was stretchered off, while Comrie had to be treated for a cut.

“I’ve not seen him yet,” he said. “I didn’t find out until after the game that he had been unconscious.

“I didn’t even know at the time that I cut my head. I’ve just gone and had stitches there. I hope Muzz is OK.”

The Saints goal came as result of a botched clearance from Craig Gordon. Most people in the ground thought Steven MacLean was offside (he wasn’t) and the striker was one of them.

Manager Tommy Wright said:  “Steven being as honest as he is, said he was only messing about when he put it in.

“He thought he was offside.  I did. But it was the right decision because (Anthony) Ralston I think is right on the touchline.

“So just as well he scored. If Steven could have scored at 1-0, going 2-0 might have been enough to end up getting a victory, but to have 10 points out of 12, I can’t really complain, I am absolutely delighted.”

The chance Wright was referring to was a header MacLean sent straight at Gordon. It was a good one but Celtic had plenty of their own in a kitchen sink of a finale.

Celtic captain Scott Brown said: “We started slowly in the first-half. It’s not like us at Celtic Park. Fair play, they’ve put their bodies on the line and they’ve got a draw.

“They play very direct but we changed formation at half-time and it seemed to work better. The second half was fantastic.”