INTERNATIONAL breaks are always a good time to take stock of domestic matters.

In Celtic's case, there is certainly a lot to ponder. After 18 competitive matches, Ange Postecoglou has led the Hoops to nine wins, two draws an seven defeats. 

But how have the players performed during those games? 

With 12 new signings arriving during the transfer window - and key players such as Scott Brown, Kristoffer Ajer, Odsonne Edouard and Ryan Christie departing - it has been a true summer of change at Parkhead.

Subscribers will already know that The Celtic Way produces detailed man-by-man match ratings for every game, so the international break seems the perfect time to collate those marks and put the results to you.

But first, a quick point of order...

It may be early in the season but we've still decided to set a threshold for inclusion of 200 minutes played. That's a pretty low bar - essentially just play more than a couple of games and you're eligible.

Using this metric, Liam Scales, Giorgos Giakoumakis, Mikey Johnston Dane Murray, Boli Bolingoli and Vasilis Barkas drop out of contention while Scott Bain just sneaks in by virtue of his second and last appearance being a 126-minute slog against FC Midtjylland.

Like with our first of these updates, appearances from the bench not long enough to warrant a match rating of more than a two or three are removed from the tallies. Where two players have finished level in rating, the tie-breaker is to give the nod to the player who has played more often.

Now, on with the show (in reverse order for added suspense)...

20. Nir Bitton

Speaking of Midtjylland, the Israeli's stupefying sending off in the first leg undoubtedly contributed to Celtic's early qualifying exit. He was given a three out of 10 for that match and has yet to score above a six in any of his appearances since, including a mistake-and-own-goal display against FK Jablonec which led columnist Amy Canavan to call for the immediate return of Stephen Welsh. After a prolonged exclusion Bitton has featured back in his natural central midfield position in recent weeks, offering the 29-year-old a glimmer of hope that he could once again frequent the first XI.

Rating: 4.8 (out of 10)

19. James McCarthy

Eyebrows were raised when the perenially-linked Republic of Ireland midfielder finally signed on at Parkhead this summer... on a four-year deal. The 30-year-old is still getting up to speed with things in Glasgow's east end but gave those of a glass-half-full persuasion something to shout about with a sublime assist against Raith Rovers in an 8-rated League Cup outing. Questions - such as the ones put forward in this column by James Dailey - over his suitability to play a central role for a fast-paced, ball-dominant side linger, however.

Rating: 5.3

18. Scott Bain

As noted in the points of order section, Bain made it into the rankings only by the skin of his teeth. His two appearances coincided with two defeats - the second leg in Denmark and the league-opening loss to Hearts at Tynecastle. The latter included serious questions over his positioning for John Souttar's winner - broken down in detail by TCW writer Sean Martin - and thereafter Bain returned to his role as a backup with Joe Hart arriving as the new number one.

Rating: 5.5

17. Adam Montgomery

A potential coming-of-age season for the teenager as his game-time has significantly increased. Despite his relatively low ranking here, there is no reason for fans to be too discouraged as the recently-converted full-back has generally performed well enough when called upon as Greg Taylor's deputy.

He has also featured further forward - such as the Europa League group opener against Real Betis - and that will have done his reputation no harm. That said, being overlooked at left-back in favour of newly-arrived right-back Josip Juranovic for the Glasgow derby at Ibrox after a decent showing against AZ Alkmaar was a sore one for him, as was former Parkhead exile Boli Bolingoli getting chosen ahead of him against Livingston.

Rating: 5.6

16. Ismaila Soro

By our ratings, Soro began the season fairly well. He started the team's first four matches and garnered marks of 7-6-6-7 before dropping out as Callum McGregor was appointed the side's playmaking single pivot. His appearances since have been sporadic and mostly off the bench, from where he has often injected some much-needed energy into the central areas while still frustrating the Celtic fans with rash tackles and heavy touches. As TCW writer Sean Martin put it in one ratings piece: "The constituent parts of a good pivot are definitely there; it is up to Postecoglou and his staff to ensure they’re fused together properly." As yet, that has not happened.

Rating: 5.9

15. Tom Rogic

Previously thought to be edging towards his personal Parkhead judgment day, Rogic rose again after the arrival of his former Australian national team manager. For a while, at least.

Initially used off the bench, the sale of Ryan Christie and a change in tactics to shift Callum McGregor deeper threw Rogic back into the role of first-team regular. That Postecoglou clearly felt that he would have to start both Rogic and David Turnbull together virtually every game since then is an indictment not on the manager or the two players - who are, after all, allowed to have a few bad games - but on the club hierarchy for not adequately replacing Christie or providing the manager with adequate alternatives.

In general, though, Rogic still possesses plenty of the old magic and creatively he poses a particularly peculiar problem to almost every defence he comes up against. The feeling is he still has a big role to play this season - even if, ideally, that isn't as a regular starter.

Rating: 5.9

14. Carl Starfelt

The big Swede has kept six clean sheets in his 15 appearances since joining the club from Rubin Kazan. That he has had three different central-defensive partners already - not to mention switching from left centre-back to right and then back again - means it's probably a decent return on the face of it.

Look a little closer, however, and concerns over Starfelt's concentration and distribution appear to have very real foundations - something TCW writer Andy Bargh dissected in detail.

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Yes, there have been positives - he has put in six 7-rated displays so far - but that five others were deemed worthy only of a 4 or a 5 perhaps illustrates best of all that the 26-year-old is still to find his feet in this side. Playing with a regular partner will hopefully alleviate some of the issues and help Starfelt find some confidence ahead of Christopher Jullien's return to fitness.

Rating: 5.9

13. Albian Ajeti

Backed by many to finally make an impact this season, it looked like Ajeti might do just that when Kyogo Furuhashi's injury opened the door to regular starter's minutes. While never likely to replicate what the Japan international brings to the party, Ajeti nonetheless set about making his presence felt anyway and struck three goals in two games.

It didn't last. While he has virtually the same output this campaign as Odsonne Edouard - one assist fewer in in one more appearance but having played 140 fewer minutes - the suspicion that the manager's style may not suit Ajeti's game is not without substance.

Oh, and Edouard, if you were wondering, would have garnered the exact same rating as Ajeti based on his games for Celtic before leaving.

Rating: 6.0

12. Liel Abada

Maybe the most surprisingly low entry. Abada has, by all accounts, enjoyed a remarkably positive start to his Celtic career. Six goals and four assists in 15 games - his first 15 games for the club, lest we forget - back that up.

Like most youngsters consistently playing as a first-choice, Abada simply seems to be going through peaks and troughs week-to-week. That volatility of performance is reflected in his match ratings, too. Along with three 8s and three 7s, the 20-year-old has been handed three 5s and two 4s.

Touted as one-third of the 'new Three Amigos' by TCW writer Tony Haggerty, Abada has already shown a confident streak that suggests he is up for the challenge of trying to keep the starter's jersey away from returning winger James Forrest - if his courageous attempt to take a penalty kick off Odsonne Edouard is anything to go by anyway.

Rating: 6.1 

11. David Turnbull

Second-most goals, second-most assists. Why, then, has Turnbull not even cracked the top 10?

The 22-year-old's adaptation to what is expected in Postecoglou's system has divided opinion. He looked uneasy with the added off-the-ball work required in the first few matches of the Greek-Australian's tenure (6-6-6-5 in his first four games) before exploding into life with a five-game streak in which he picked up a ratings line of 7-8-7-7-8 and bagged five of his six goals.

Since then the former Motherwell man's form has dropped off considerably. Like with Rogic, the lack of alternatives available to Postecoglou has hindered Turnbull as much as the manager himself. Still only in his third full season as a senior player, it would be ideal to rotate the Scotland international out of the side on occasion.

So far, however, he has started every match and clocked up more minutes than anyone else in the squad. That he followed his five-match purple patch with a nine-game stretch which included four 5s and a 4 feeds into the impression of someone who already needs a rest.

Rating: 6.1

READ MORE: Inside Celtic's four key transfer areas and where money will need to be spent

10. Greg Taylor

Kicking off the top 10 is, as one reader put it recently, Celtic's 'Steady Eddie'.

Reports that Taylor is due to be handed a new deal divided the fans but what is clear is Postecoglou trusts the 23-year-old and he has, so far, been his undisputed first-choice when fit.

Celtic Way:

With shortcomings in taking a man on and in winning the ball in the air, Taylor is far from perfect but he does plenty of things well too. In a system reliant on constant movement and players knowing what is expected of them, the Scotland international provides a dependable outlet and is a persistent bundle of energy on the left.

"We don't stop" Postecoglou told the players at the start of the season - Greg Taylor certainly doesn't. 

Rating: 6.3

9. Josip Juranovic

Yet to really make his mark at Celtic, August signing Juranovic has found himself shunted to left-back a few times after Greg Taylor went down with a shoulder injury.

The Croatia international made a solid debut in that position after being thrown straight into the team for the derby at Ibrox and followed that up with another good display, this time on his natural flank, against Ross County.

Against Dundee United, Juranovic added his name to the injury list Postecoglou has had to deal with lately and the man TCW tactics writer Ross Goodwin called "a bargain" remains out for the time being.

With his lack of game-time in the position he was signed in there is still an air of mystery around how good Juranovic will actually be for Celtic - only a regular run in the side when he returns will solve that.

Rating: 6.4

8. Cameron Carter-Vickers

This is a curious one. Since his arrival from Tottenham Hotspur on deadline day, Carter-Vickers has started all seven games. In that period Celtic have lost three, drawn one and conceded 11 goals in a topsy-turvy run.

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In an individual sense, Carter-Vickers' match ratings largely reflect the team's erratic streak with two 8-rated displays offset by a 5 and a few 6s. Likewise, there have been glimpses of incisive passing ability (against Livingston) and aggressive defensive instincts (against Aberdeen) as well as shaky moments of confusion (Real Betis).

Which of the two sides to the American international surfaces more often will go a long way to determining his chances of partnering Christopher Jullien when he returns from his injury lay-off.

Rating: 6.4

7. Anthony Ralston

Imagine if someone told you even a couple of months ago that Celtic's latest magnificent seven - in these rankings at least - would be Tony Ralston. 

His pre-season showings had most fans hoping to see two right-backs walk through the doors at Lennoxtown. To his credit, Ralston has confronted that challenge in much the same manner as he does an opposing winger: head-on.

Celtic Way: Anthony Ralston's touch map v AZ Alkmaar. Source: WyScoutAnthony Ralston's touch map v AZ Alkmaar. Source: WyScout

Committed and industrious to the end, his displays against AZ Alkmaar and Rangers stand out so far (both rated 8 by TCW) while his unexpected scoring touch has been a delight to witness too.

It is unlikely he will continue as a first-XI player when Postecoglou has a full squad to choose from, but the biggest compliment anyone can pay Ralston is that people have stopped eyeing the door in anticipation of that second right-back's arrival.

Rating: 6.5

6. James Forrest

Just the seven appearances for the veteran winger so far this term, but in those he showed why Celtic missed him so much last season.

Two goals and three assists are decent raw statistics but more reflective of his impact is that the Hoops are averaging 2.14 points per game when Forrest plays - comfortably the best of any player who has appeared more than once.

From our point of view, Forrest began the season with a subpar 5-rated display away to FC Midtjylland - where he missed a chance to put Celtic 2-0 ahead. In the six matches following, the Scotland international garnered three 7s and two 8s before going down with injury.

The 30-year-old's imminent return to availability - as TCW writer Alison McConnell pointed out - will be a massive boost for Postecoglou and hand the manager genuine options to rotate out wide as required during his title charge.

Rating: 6.6

5. Joe Hart

Hart's career renaissance is one of the stories of the season so far.

The 34-year-old ex-Manchester City goalkeeper signed ahead of the side's fourth game of the campaign - away to FK Jablonec - and went straight into the starting XI after immediately jetting out to the Czech Republic. He has yet to miss a minute of action since.

A vocal presence at the back, Hart was entrusted with the captain's armband when injury struck Callum McGregor and embraced the role (his ratings as captain are 7-7-7-6).

Celtic Way:

But it's not just his leadership. The Englishman has pulled off a string of impressive saves - Jablonec at home, AZ Alkmaar, Livingston and Real Betis spring to mind here - while generally looking more comfortable on the ball than his reputation suggested he would.

There is still a mistake in him, sure. But crucially for Celtic the main difference between Hart and his immediate predecessors between the sticks is that the former England number one does not let such instances undercut his overall game. Hart came here to play, and play he has.

Rating: 6.6

4. Stephen Welsh

Potentially the biggest surprise on the list? If so, maybe you weren't paying close enough attention to the youth product. 

Given the starter's jersey due to a lack of alternatives, Welsh grabbed his chance in style. Through his first seven matches this season, the 21-year-old's ratings were as follows: 8-7-7-6-7-8-7.

Talk of a Scotland senior call-up was not that farfetched while the youngster - as TCW writer Sean Martin dissected - coped exceptionally well with a tactical switch against AZ Alkmaar.

Unfortunately Welsh's copybook has been blotted somewhat in his last few appearances - losing his man for the Rangers derby winner and suspect defending against Livingston - but that initial impressive start to the season should not be totally forgotten.

Rating: 6.7

3. Callum McGregor

Celtic's new captain has so many strings to his bow these days you get the impression he'd probably make it out of Squid Game.

Shooting, passing, composure, technique, endurance. Attacking midfield, left wing, right wing, one half of a dual pivot. Callum McGregor has done it all over the past few years. Even left-back (although we won't go into that too much).

Celtic Way:  

He has taken to his latest mission - the playmaking single pivot in an especially attack-heavy system - with his usual elegance. The team's distinctly pedestrian performances during his recent injury absence perhaps stands as the most obvious testament to his influence on the Celts' style of play.

With seven 7s and a couple of 8s already this season, McGregor is still Celtic's model of consistency. But he's not half bad to watch as a technical footballer either - just ask TCW columnist Kevin McKenna, who waxed lyrical about him earlier this season.

Rating: 6.8

2. Jota

Our scouting report ahead of Jota's arrival on a loan-to-buy deal from Benfica outlined that the 22-year-old was a potential gem who could frustrate and excite in equal measure. So far, he has been doing far more of the latter.

Just seven matches into his Celtic career, the Portuguese winger has proved himself full of attacking verve and shown he has an eye for goal... and, much to his annoyance, the crossbar. More than that, though, he has endeared himself to the fans with a couple of dedicated performances when the going has got tough.

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First, Dundee United. The match may have ended in a disappointing 1-1 draw but Jota, just four games into his Parkhead tenure, was the man the rest of the team turned to when the chips were down and he rose to that with remarkable self-assurance. He received an 8 from us for his efforts that day.

Then, Leverkusen. Again the result went against the Hoops - more obviously so this time - but again it was Jota who shone as the one consistently attempting to play the Celtic way despite the apparent hopelessness of the occasion. No wonder so many fans are urging the club to exercise that purchase option already.

Ratings: 7.0

1. Kyogo Furuhashi

Who else?

The Japan international has been nothing short of a sensation since his arrival. Earmarked by Postecoglou after his performances against him in the J1 League, a low-key debut against Hearts at Tynecastle was instantly forgotten when he inspired the Celts to their first competitive away win in months against FK Jablonec.

Celtic Way:

Badly-missed during his injury lay-off, Furuhashi palpably sets the tone in attack and exemplifies the type of high-intensity, swashbuckling-but-hardworking football his manager espouses.

And the goals aren't bad either. A one-touch finish maestro, the 26-year-old has shown a penchant for the finesse (remember the Jablonec dink?), the powerful (watch the net bulge after he connects with his volley against AZ) and even the off-the-cuff (chesting it home nonchalantly at Pittodrie? Come on).

Between his movement, his intelligence, his perseverance and his sheer likeability Kyogo is emerging as the talisman for a new era at Parkhead.

Rating: 7.2

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