IT took an unusual set of circumstances for Liam Scales to get the extended run in the Celtic first team which he had longed for since signing for the Glasgow club.

Scales, who has won many admirers in the past four weeks with his accomplished performances for Brendan Rodgers’ side, has been the beneficiary of Carl Starfelt departing and his fellow centre backs Cameron Carter-Vickers, Maik Nawrocki, Stephen Welsh and Nat Phillips all suffering injuries.

Yet, the young man from County Wicklow has never taken the conventional route during his life and career and it has always served him well.

He ignored appeals from family members to concentrate on playing Gaelic football when he was a youngster so he could pursue his dream of making it in association football and then went to university when he left school instead of joining a full-time outfit.

The 25-year-old has shown there are still many ways to get on in the modern game.

Can he hold on to his place at Celtic when his team mates return to full fitness in the coming weeks? Could he earn a recall to the Republic of Ireland squad and make his debut for his country in the next international break? Do not bet against it. He certainly intends to do both.

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“I’m probably proving a few people wrong who maybe thought I couldn’t play here,”he said.“The background I’ve come from, my career has taken a different path to a lot of other players that Celtic might sign. That’s fine, fans are entitled to their own opinion. It’s just great to get the chance to prove some people wrong. 

“I was at UCD (University College Dublin) in the League of Ireland Premier Division. I did three years there. The study coincided with my football. After that, I went to Shamrock Rovers.

“I’m definitely a late developer. It didn’t happen for me when I was younger. There were team-mates going to the UK at 15 or 16, but a lot of those boys are back home now playing football because it didn’t work out.

“I just kept playing for my local team before getting in at UCD and taking it from there. I do think I’ve developed late. Everyone has a different path and this one has worked for me. I wouldn’t do it any other way.”

The Herald: Scales added: “I always had belief. Even if it wasn’t going to happen, you still have to get yourself up for training every day. You need to keep it in the back of your mind that football’s a mad game and you can never plan too far in advance.

“Being back at Celtic in the summer, the only thing on my mind was to impress as much as I could and be in with a chance of playing here.

“But it has definitely been unexpected. Because of a few injuries, I’ve got a chance in the team. It’s been great, I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s the first time I’ve had a string of games for Celtic so I’ve taken a lot from it.”

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Does he think he can continue to feature when Carter-Vickers, Phillips and Nawrocki are available again? “My intention is to make the manager’s decisions as difficult as possible,” he said. “I can only look at the next game. As long as I keep performing I’ll give myself a chance.”

Scales made his Champions League group stage bow against Feyenoord in Rotterdam on Tuesday night and although he was unable to prevent Celtic, who were reduced to nine men in the second half, from slumping to a 2-0 defeat he further enhanced his burgeoning reputation.

He is optimistic that featuring for the Glasgow giants in Europe’s premier club competition will count in his favour when Stephen Kenny names his Ireland squad for the Euro 2024 qualifiers against Greece and Gibraltar next month.

“I hope,” he said. “I’ll never be shy about that. As a kid, that was the one thing I always wanted, a cap for my country. It would be great to get that and playing for Celtic in the Champions League is bound to help.

“The competition is very high in my position, they’re all good lads and great players. We’re friendly with each other, but this is the best level I could be playing at right now, in the Champions League. So that should give me a chance at least.

The Herald: “I’ve been in five camps so far and have been involved in a good few match day squads. The Gibraltar game is a possibility but I’m not the manager. They’re all big games because we need to win every one of them to have a chance of qualifying in third spot.

“I just need to focus on playing games for Celtic and that will help me. I haven’t heard from anyone , but they obviously do their analysis and watch games. I’m sure there will be people watching the high-profile matches in particular.”

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Scales’ sudden rise to prominence – the defender, who spent last term on loan at Aberdeen, has not looked back since being named Man of the Match in the 1-0 win over Rangers at the start of this month – has by no means gone to his head and will not lead to any drop in application levels.

“It has only been a couple of games and I haven’t proven anything yet,” he said. “In my mind I need to keep going. Things change quick and I need to keep going the way I have been. 

 “I tend to stay out of the way a bit so nothing has changed much for me. Yes, there were a few nice comments (after the Rangers match). It means a lot to the fans to win in those games. It’s been recognised definitely, but I try to stay out of the way. 

“It’s only been a few games so I don’t want to get ahead of myself and get things out of proportion. I’m just playing the way I have always played. Nothing has really changed for me, but I have got an opportunity and now people are able to see what I am about.”

The Herald: