Celtic coach John Kennedy in favour of colt teams in SPFL

Celtic Under-20s v Annan Athletic
Celtic Under-20s beat Annan Athletic in this season's Challenge Cup

Celtic first-team coach John Kennedy has backed the idea of Premiership colt teams playing in Scotland's leagues.

Under-20s sides from top-flight clubs featured in this season's Challenge Cup.

And Celtic's colt team went furthest in the tournament, losing at the last-32 stage.

"It is not just about Celtic, it is about Scottish football and what is best for the national team and the leagues," said Kennedy.

"If they can make it happen and pretty much make everyone happy as well, it is a positive thing.

"Our young lads have had a great experience this season with the cup.

"Obviously they lost to Livingston at the weekend but that is part and parcel of first-team football and it is a wake-up for them.

"They had a great result against Annan and Cowdenbeath and they lose against Livingston and that is the reality of that type of football. It can only be beneficial for them.

"So it is important for Scottish football to look at it and try to make it happen."

'A lot simpler if we keep things in-house'

Kennedy believes playing against senior sides is "crucially important for the development of our players".

"We have a lot of players who go out on loan to other clubs and it is great to get that experience," he explained.

"But they do go to other clubs that play in a different style and have different methods and it almost knocks them out of sync a little bit in terms of what we do with them, what we are trying to teach them, because all of a sudden they are being told something different.

"We do have some fantastic clubs who take our players and do a very good job but I think it would make things a lot simpler if we could keep things in-house."

The possibility of colt teams playing in Scotland's league set-up has previously been mentioned in connection with proposals for Celtic and Rangers playing in cross-border leagues.

But Scottish Professional Football League chief executive Neil Doncaster says any involvement of under-20s teams in the senior leagues "deserves a proper conversation with all clubs".

"If you look at the situation in Germany and Spain, where colt teams have been a feature of the league set-up for some years, the general view is that colt teams assist player development and they give talented young players real experience against seasoned professionals," he said.

"We've seen that this year in the Irn-Bru [Challenge] Cup and the feedback from Premiership teams is that the players have benefited from those games. Let's keep an open mind about what the future holds.

"Any structural change requires and indeed deserves a proper conversation with all clubs. We need to understand what all clubs want and why they want it."

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