RYAN CHRISTIE is already capable of making it big in the Celtic starting XI according to Ricky Sbragia, the Scotland U21 manager.

The national team head coach has once again selected the player for his country ahead of the Euro qualifier double header with France and Iceland next month. It was an easy decision for Sbragia, who has watched the 20-year-old that is currently back at Inverness Caledonian Thistle on loan flourish for John Hughes’ team.

His talents were clear to see on Saturday when the forward slammed in a 30-yard screamer against Aberdeen to help inflict the Pittodrie club’s first defeat of the Ladbrokes Premiership campaign. Christie’s run of form and game time in the Highlands is undoubtedly a benefit to the U21 team, who won their opening group game last month 2-1 away to Northern Ireland – a game the hot talent scored in.

But Sbragia believes, that on current form, his star man has what it takes to make his mark on the Celtic team he will join in the New Year. “I think he has always had ability and talent,” he said. “It was just about the time when that would all come together. That is gradually happening and he is reaping the benefits of it.

“Yogi up at Inverness has done extremely well for him. And the fact he is playing continued first team football is a big plus for him. In some cases, players will play one week and then not again for two or three weeks. But Ryan is playing week in, week out. I think he has a great chance of playing for Celtic as well, with the form he is in. But he is at Inverness just now and I think he is focused on that. He wants to keep doing extremely well for them and be in this Under-21 squad.”

Sbragia added: “We had a chat on the Friday before the Northern Ireland game about that [signing for Celtic] because it had been a great week for him, albeit a difficult week in a way. But he dealt with it. Mentally he was right. When we spoke to him, there was never any doubt about him wanting to play, or making an excuses.

“That said a lot about him and the great thing for me is that he wants to play for Scotland.”

Kilmarnock’s Craig Slater has been recalled to the squad after recovering from injury, while there is also a slot for Dominic Hyam of Reading.

Looking ahead to the challenge ahead, that will see group leaders Iceland and heavyweights France come to Pittodrie, Sbragia said: “We know we have two difficult games coming up. I watched the France and Iceland and the France v Brazil [2-1 to France back in September in friendly] game, they were exceptional. Iceland got a great result against France.

“I think it’s important that we win our home games and get something away from home, but it will be difficult. They are an exceptional team.”