It’s difficult to recall a time when competition for places at Celtic was so fierce.

A by-product of their ongoing dominance of the domestic scene is that it leaves some very capable footballers in a position where they aren’t actually playing much football. That’s not a slight on Ange Postecoglou or anyone else at the club – the elite level is survival of the fittest and there are few who would argue that the manager is not picking the right players week in, week out. The Premiership table and the ongoing push for the Treble suggest he might be doing something right.

And while Celtic have only one player – Conor Hazard – out of contract this summer, there may be a few on the fringes who might just be considering their futures. There are, of course, worse clubs to warm the bench than one which collects a trophy seemingly every couple of months.

But few players will be content with a bit-part role at any level of the game, and as the end of another campaign draws ever closer, its conclusion will place some at a career crossroads. Mikey Johnston, on-loan at Vitória Guimarães in Portugal’s Primeira Liga, was back in the news on Thursday as he received a first international call-up since switching allegiance to the Republic of Ireland.

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The 23-year-old winger was capped by Scotland until U-21 level, and perhaps felt his chances of making an impact in the senior team had come and gone. However, he will be all-too aware that the opportunity to represent Ireland was likely influenced by the fact he is now playing regular matches.

There’s no doubt injuries have curtailed his progress at Celtic – you aren’t handed a debut at 18 if you don’t have something about you – but the question now is whether there is a place for him at the club beyond this summer. Postecoglou was recently asked about Johnston’s loan and future prospects, and said: “Hopefully for him that gives him all of the things he is looking for in his career. In terms of beyond that, he is playing more regularly. We needed him to play more regular football and he is doing that. At the end of the year we will look at it and decide what is best for his future.”

With Jota, Daizen Maeda, Liel Abada, Sead Haksabanovic and James Forrest all ahead of him in the peckinging order, it seems increasingly likely Johnston is one whose future lies away from Celtic Park. His breakthrough on the international scene only heightens his need to be playing every week.

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Standing at that same crossroads, arguably, is David Turnbull. The midfielder was nowhere to be seen when Steve Clarke named his Scotland contingent for the first batch of Euro 2024 qualifiers.

It wasn’t so long ago there was a late clamour for Turnbull, plus the likes of Billy Gilmour and Nathan Patterson, to be included in Clarke’s Euro 2020 squad. But with just six starts from 28 Premiership matches this season, there’s barely been a word said about his current non-involvement with the national team.

Forging a path into Celtic’s midfield is a daunting task. Postecoglou can choose only three from Callum McGregor, Aaron Mooy, Reo Hatate, Tomoki Iwata, Matt O’Riley, James McCarthy and Turnbull himself. With McGregor ever-present in the number six role, it is – more realistically – only two positions up for grabs.

There’s a strong case for Hatate currently being the best player in the country, while the emergence of Mooy has made earning starts even more difficult for Turnbull, emphasised by the fact the Aussie has even kept O’Riley out of the side of late. It is, of course, a huge plus for Celtic to have these options, but there inevitably comes a time when players will crave regular involvement above all else. Turnbull is still only 23 and, therefore, less likely than, say, 31-year-old Forrest in being truly content with a bit-part role.

The former Motherwell youth was one of the few bright sparks of the ill-fated 2020/21 campaign, and has perhaps been an unfortunate victim of Celtic’s rapid progress since then. Anthony Ralston is another who has slipped somewhat into the background after that incredible renaissance in his Celtic career.

The right-back was a more than capable deputy when Josip Juranovic left for the World Cup at the tail-end of last year, but a back injury has limited his involvement of late, as has the arrival of Alistair Johnston. The Canadian already seems out on his own as Postecoglou’s preferred option following a highly impressive start to life in Glasgow.

Ralston’s case is different to Turnbull’s, though, in that he is the recognised back-up and can still expect to receive a reasonable level of game-time as he returns to full fitness. That Juranovic was replaced so swiftly by Johnston, however, might suggest to the Scotland international that his manager does not see him becoming first-choice any time soon.

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At 24, he too faces questions over how he sees his career panning out. Of the three mentioned here, though, Ralston feels the most likely to remain. His resurgence from forgotten man struggling on-loan with the likes of Dundee United and St Johnstone to becoming one of the most popular players among the fanbase is just one of several feel-good Celtic stories from the last few years.

He’s also the type of player every good squad needs; one who can be called upon dependably despite knowing he’s not going to start every game. Of all the things Postecoglou has achieved thus far, keeping a large squad littered with talent happy is one of the most underrated. Celtic’s formidable depth would not be so impactful were they not all pulling in the same direction.

Come the summer, however, it will be intriguing to see if any supporting cast members feel they’re ready for a starring role elsewhere.