Sunderland are apparently close to the loan signing of Celtic winger Lewis Morgan, a player already known to Jack Ross having spent 18 months under his wing as the pair led St Mirren to a Scottish Championship title win in the summer of 2018.
Morgan was actually signed by Celtic this time last year, but was loaned back to St Mirren Park for the remainder of the season before eventually joining up with Brendan Rodgers in the summer.
Morgan finds himself on the periphery of the first team and behind the likes of Scott Sinclair, Ryan Christie, James Forrest, Jonny Hayes, Tim Weah and Oliver Burke in the pecking order - and they have another winger, Ukraine international Maryan Shved, putting the final touches to his move from Karpaty Lviv.
It’d be fair to suggest that spending a spell on loan away from Parkhead, gaining valuable first team experience south of the border, may aid Morgan’s chances of success at Celtic long term.
To try and gain an understanding of why things haven’t quite worked out for Morgan at Celtic, I sat down with passionate Bhoys fan Liam King to gather his thoughts on the matter, and on whether Morgan will make an impact should he indeed end up as a Sunderland player before the transfer window closes on Thursday night.
RR: Lewis Morgan obviously arrived at Celtic in the summer on the back of a fantastic spell with St Mirren, working under the wing of Jack Ross. What were the expectations of Celtic supporters when Morgan came in - were they expecting to see him make an instant impact in the first team?
LK: I’d say Celtic fans were realistic when we signed Lewis Morgan as, even at the age of 21, he hadn’t played a single minute in a top flight game.
No one expected him to come in and dislodge Scott Sinclair, who has been our top goalscorer in the league for the past two seasons.
He was unfortunate to pick up a knee injury in July and that ruled him out until mid-September, missing out on opportunities such as a league cup tie against Scottish Championship side Partick Thistle, where he probably would’ve featured.
RR: Why do you think he’s been unable to hold down a place in the side?
LK: Morgan has only actually started one game for Celtic this season; a 2-0 defeat away to RB Leipzig in the Europa League - talk about getting chucked in at the deep end!
The rest have been substitute appearances, with Morgan barely getting enough time to get into the game.
He simply hasn’t had the run of games to be able to show what he can really do for us.
RR: Do you feel that Sunderland, at this point in time, are a good fit for Morgan?
LK: Definitely. With Sunderland chasing the League One title, Morgan has that experience of a title fight under his belt from his time at St Mirren last season.
Following on from that, Morgan was a star for Jack Ross’ St Mirren side, and you would imagine it would be a swift transition back into Ross’ playing style.
I feel this move is the perfect opportunity for Morgan to impress.
RR: Likewise, do you feel Morgan is a good fit for Sunderland? Do you reckon he’s good enough to make an instant impact in League One?
LK: As aforementioned, it should be a swift transition into Ross’ quick and attacking play style so there shouldn’t be any trouble there.
Sunderland seem to lack players in the attacking third with Lynden Gooch, Aiden McGeady and Chris Maguire your only real options out wide; Morgan will at least provide these three with some solid competition for places.
However, he has only played roughly 50 minutes of football since the beginning of December, a month where we played nine matches and he featured off the bench in only two of them.
With no matches being played in Scotland’s top flight from 29 December to 19 January, it may take him a couple weeks to get fully match fit.
RR: Do you still feel Morgan has a future with Celtic, should he do well at Sunderland?
LK: Contracted until 2022, Morgan definitely has a future here at Celtic however, with Oliver Burke and Timothy Weah coming in on loan from West Brom and PSG respectively this month, he’s realistically not going to feature for the rest of the season.
It makes sense to take advantage and loan him out to give him some much needed experience.
A quick look at the League One table shows that Sunderland are sitting 4th in “goals scored”, so you clearly see a lot of the ball and play on the front foot the majority of time; given the opportunity this can only be beneficial for Morgan.
RR: What would you say are the best and worst aspects of Morgan’s game?
LK: Morgan predominately plays on the left, however was known to play centrally last season at St Mirren, and has been described as a “two-footed” winger, with it being impossible to tell which is his stronger side by Jack Ross.
From what I have seen of Morgan he is an extremely quick player, who is able to press and get at defenders.
He has a wicked delivery from set pieces, and likes to get in and around the box looking to shoot when he can - he scored 18 from 42 appearances last season with 13 assists.
RR: Overall, what do you feel about this particular piece of business and how it affects all three parties - Sunderland, Morgan himself and of course Celtic?
LK: I think it’s a brilliant piece of business for all three parties.
At the age of 22 he needs to be playing games and I think Jack Ross will give him ample opportunity to do so. Morgan was so influential at St Mirren last season and helped them go from relegation candidates in 2017 to champions in 2018, winning Championship Player of the Year along the way.
Here’s hoping Morgan enjoys his six month stint on Wearside, wins a couple of medals and is ready for our European Qualifiers in July!