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Celtic almost certainly rounded off their midfield options for the foreseeable on Tuesday with the signing of Australia internationalist Aaron Mooy. The former St Mirren midfielder put pen to paper on a two-year deal to reunite with his former national team manager Ange Postecoglou. The move was welcomed by current Socceroos boss Graham Arnold, with Mooy now likely to see playing time ahead of the Qatar World Cup later this year. However, one player who could find more game time difficult because of the Aussie’s arrival is James McCarthy.

The former Hamilton midfielder ended years of speculation linking him with Celtic and finally moved back to Scotland from Crystal Palace last summer, but found opportunities limited, even with Celtic’s lack of midfield depth in the first half of the season. The former Ireland international made only six starts and 16 substitute appearances, rarely if ever looking capable of deputising for Callum McGregor when called upon.

With his mobility now clearly restricted following successive injuries whilst a Premier League player, Mooy’s signing means that McCarthy’s time as a first-team player at Celtic is now surely even more limited. The Irishman was well off the pace in yesterday’s friendly draw with Legia Warsaw to mark Hoops legend Artur Boruc’s retirement, and was perhaps lucky to avoid a sending-off for a couple of conspicuous challenges, capping off what has been a forgettable pre-season for McCarthy personally, whilst others in his position have excelled.
McCarthy was highly sought after as a Hamilton player, signed by Wigan for £3m in 2009, and followed his then-manager Roberto Martinez to Everton in 2013. His career peaked in the 2014-15 season when Everton fell just short of finishing 4th in the Premier League, their success built on the solid bedrock of McCarthy alongside Gareth Barry in a double pivot at the base of midfield.