THERE is a school of thought that young footballers can sometimes get too much, too soon. In Scottish football though, there has long been a reticence to throw precocious talents into first-team action until they are closer to their 20th birthday.

That is a trend that may be reversing though, and Celtic manager Neil Lennon is certainly in the school of thought that says if you are good enough, you are old enough. And rarely has he been surer of a young player’s capacity to handle being thrown into the deep end than he is with Karamoko Dembele.

The 16-year-old has travelled to Austria with the Celtic squad for their pre-season tour, and he isn’t just along for the ride to carry hampers and pick up a bit of experience. He is ready, and he is here to play.

"Karamoko is certainly part of the first-team squad just now,” Lennon said.

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"He is in the mix and he will go to Austria. We have to very mindful of his age and his development. But sometimes you don't want to curtail talent either.

"Wayne Rooney was one who made his debut at 16 too. I'm not saying Karamoko is going to be as good as him. They are different types.

"But he's a very talented player and one that I think should be mixing with the first team now.

"He is ready for that, to be training with the first team and dipping in and out. That's all part of his development.

"We have seen it with others in the past. Aiden McGeady was young when he came in. Shaun Maloney has only just turned 18 when he made his debut at Ibrox as a sub.

"Being around the older players can help him and it's good to become familiar with the first-team environment.

"Karamoko isn't fazed by it but again, we have to treat him very carefully.”

Another young talent who is slightly further on than Dembele in his development is Mikey Johnston, with the 20-year-old attacker scoring five times in 23 appearances last season in all competitions and being pitched into an Old Firm derby at Ibrox as the sole striker.

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Circumstances certainly played a part in his selection for that game back in late December, which turned out to be something of a chastening experience for Johnston, but it is one that could well be the making of him.

Certainly, his manager feels he can learn much from it, and he has told his young charge that improving his strength and fitness will be critical if he is to make the jump from fringe contributor to becoming a regular in his side.

"It's a big season for Michael because it's the next one,” said Lennon.

"I like him. He needs to get fitter and more robust, and he's been told that.

"He came off in the youth cup final and Scottish Cup final with cramp. But we need to look at the conditioning of all the players who aren't playing on a regular basis.

"We maybe need to work them a bit more during the season so they are up to speed when they come in.

"[Vakoun Issouf] Bayo went away with the Ivory Coast and ruptured his hamstring. Jack Hendry picked up an injury in that area too.

"We need to stay on top of those boys and make sure they are getting as much work as those who are playing.

"We can't have them being at risk of injury 60 or 70 minutes into games.

"Michael falls into that category but we believe in him - he started the cup final.

"That was a shot in the arm for him and he has a lot of talent.”