KIERAN TIERNEY has thanked Emilio Izaguirre for helping him nail down a place in the Celtic first team – even though it has come at the Honduran’s expense. Tierney’s transition from academy prospect to top-team regular has been one of the success stories of Celtic’s season, with the 18 year-old proving himself a dependable performer on the left side of the defence. Such has been Tierney’s consistency that it has been reported that Izaguirre, the regular left-back for the previous five seasons, is considering a summer switch away from Celtic in search of regular football.

Tierney, though, credits Izaguirre as an influential figure in his emergence this season and hopes the 29 year-old will stay at the club and help push him to become even better in future. But he also understands why his one-time mentor may decide to seek pastures new.

The Isle of Man-born player said: “Emilio has definitely been one of the most encouraging of the senior players. When I was just starting to train with the first team last season he took me under his wing, gave me a lot of tips and worked a lot with me on crossing. All that helped me progress.

“We still have the same relationship that we did last season and the season before that. We train together, and after training we’ll stay back to do crossing together. We don’t dislike each other or have anything against each other - we’re actually one of the closest pairs in the changing room. That says a lot about Emilio because every player wants to play and we’re both working hard for the same place in the team.

“I hope he stays. He’s a great player, a great guy and has been a good servant to the club. I’m sure that’ll continue because he’s a top professional. But I can understand if he’s not playing that he may look elsewhere.

“Every player wants to play, especially when you’re a bit older because it’s easier for a younger player to mind less if you’re in and out the side. But he’ll want to be playing because he’ll want to get keep getting picked for his national team.”

Confirmation that Tierney is now considered a bona fide first-team player came via his recent switch from the youth dressing rooms at Lennoxtown to changing with the senior figures. The Scotland under-19 cap admits it was a move that bolstered his confidence.

He added: “I’ve been in the first team dressing room for about a month now. The coaches came to a decision that I was ready and I was obviously delighted at that. The boys gave me a bit of stick at first saying I’d have to sing a song when I came but fortunately that didn’t happen! It’s a small thing but it’s significant. It means I’m with the boys all the time now.

“Before I’d come in in the morning and be chatting with all my boys in the youth dressing room but then going to train with other players. Now everything is with the first team. At the start the young guys were giving me a bit of stick, joking that I’m changing. But I still talk to them as much as I always did so it’s good.

“I feel more involved in everything now and I’m probably a lot closer to the senior players now. I speak to them more than I would if I was in the other changing room and we text each other now. They are treating as a fellow first team player but then they’ve always done that. They’ve always been good with me and not treating me like a young boy.”

Tierney has been spoken about as a possible candidate for one of Scotland manager Gordon Strachan’s two squads for the forthcoming double-header against Denmark and the Czech Republic. But with the under-19s having a trio of European qualifiers coming up, the full-back wonders if he might end up staying put.

He added: “I’m not thinking too much about that yet. I don’t know whether I’ll get picked again for the 19s like I was the last time and they have the Euros coming up because they qualified last time. I’d be okay with that.

“Scotland have Andy Robertson at left back and it just depends what they think would be a better experience for me - whether I went to the Euros and played with the 19s or went with the senior squad and sat on the bench for a few games. It’s just great to be mentioned for Scotland. Although these are just friendlies, for any 18-year-old to be mentioned for the international team is amazing.”