THERE is little argument that Ange Postecoglou’s reliance on his young players of late was born of necessity rather than design, but the Celtic manager is keen to stress that it won’t only be an injury crisis that leads to opportunities being handed to the promising talents coming through at the club.

The latest debutant was 18-year-old striker Joey Dawson, who replaced the injured Kyogo just 15 minutes into the win over St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park on Boxing Day, joining other recent academy graduates like Owen Moffat and Adam Montgomery in earning involvement in the first-team squad this season.

There is no greater poster boy for what can be achieved at Celtic than current captain Callum McGregor, who joined the club at the age of eight and has now become the undoubted leader of the dressing room.

His Celtic journey may have started long before Postecoglou was even known on these shores, and his development from talented fringe player to key midfielder took place over many years, but among the many reasons why the Australian handed him the armband was the example he sets for those coming through below him.

The balance of developing young players while consistently delivering success has always been a tricky one at a club like Celtic, where time is not often afforded to players or managers to prove themselves, but it is a priority for Postecoglou.

That being said, he has warned his youngsters that in the future, those opportunities will have to be earned. But giving a chance to young players and watching them flourish is one of the parts of the job he enjoys most.

“I certainly do,” Postecoglou said. “I think it’s an important part of any club, this club.

“Having players who were brought up with this club is important. I mean, you just have to look at our captain. It’s not just for Callum, it’s for our supporters. To know that one of their own has gone from the terraces to on the pitch.

“It’s definitely something I want to do but we’re not just going to give away appearances. They’ve got to earn it.

“The first half of the year, some of them have been given it probably earlier [than they would have]. That’s the reality of our situation with injuries, but that doesn’t dismiss the fact that they’ve had the opportunity.

“It’s certainly something I’d like to do. It’s important, it’s a priority, that we keep developing our own players.”

That focus on the bright side of Celtic’s personnel predicament prior to the winter break is one that Postecoglou prefers to accentuate, rather than the paucity of options he often had, particularly in the attacking positions.

The blame for a host of hamstring injuries he admitted, after all, lay at his own door, with the Celtic players slowly adjusting to the high intensity of his training and playing style.

The club’s call for the winter break to be brought forward – as it ultimately was – wasn’t universally viewed as an altruistic move however, with many Rangers supporters believing it was designed to allow Celtic the chance to get some of those injured players back to fitness.

Postecoglou has predictably scoffed at such theories though, and points to the lack of complaints coming from him or his players during a hectic December – in which they used 27 players in just 18 days – as evidence that his philosophy has always been to just get on with it.

“As I said, we had challenges,” he said. “It would have been easy for me [to complain]…there is a helluva lot of violin-playing around the place, but I didn’t want us to be one of them.

“We are a big club. We will take whatever challenges are before us and not make excuses.

“We could have made excuses from the first game when we were throwing in guys who hadn’t even met their team-mates yet but we took our licks, we took our punches, we got back up off the canvas and that’s what we’ll keep doing.

“That’s the kind of club we want to be. Credit to the players and to the staff.

“[At McDiarmid Park], we had plenty of excuses, but if we didn’t get the job done, I wouldn’t be able to use many of them.

“I would be saying we were disappointed, as we were [against St Mirren].”

Meanwhile, as Celtic finalise the details of their first signing of the January window, with striker Daizen Maeda ready to join from Yokohama F Marinos on an initial loan with an option to buy, Postecoglou is buoyed by the opportunity to strengthen his squad.

Though, as always in the current climate, he qualifies that enthusiasm with a realism about the hurdles they face in bringing players in.

“I’m always optimistic but the world flies in the face of it sometimes,” he said.

“We’ve just got to do what we do. That’s why I’m reticent to say, ‘yes definitely in this time frame’, because things change on a daily basis at the moment with the way the world is.

“We have been working for quite a while, Michael (Nicholson) and myself and the key people in the club, to try and do the business as early as possible, so I’m still hoping that will happen.”