Celtic loanee Liam Scales has been rewarded for his early season form at Aberdeen with a call-up to the Republic of Ireland squad.

The centre-back, who signed for the Dons on a season-long loan in the summer, has been called up for the Republic’s upcoming Nations League games, which include a pivotal clash at Hampden against Scotland this weekend.

One of the 12 signings made in Ange Postecoglou’s first transfer window, Scales played 799 minutes, mostly at left-back, contributing two goals and two assists.

The £500,000 signing from League of Ireland side Shamrock Rovers found opportunities few and far between in the second half of last season though, with his last appearance coming in Celtic’s 2-0 loss to Bodo Glimt in the Europa Conference League in February.

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Fellow Irishman Jim Goodwin offered the 24-year-old the chance of more regular football with Celtic opting against a permanent transfer despite a willingness from Aberdeen’s side in doing so.

Although he saw red at the weekend in Aberdeen’s loss to Hibs at Easter Road, Scales has generally impressed in his 11 appearances, mostly at centre-back, across the league and League Cup so far this season.

He has been used by Goodwin predominately at left centre-back in their 4-2-3-1/4-3-3 but did play minutes at left-back in home games against St Mirren and Motherwell last month.

Celtic Way: WyscoutWyscout (Image: Wyscout)

Here, we take a look at the Irish defender’s data from the opening weeks of the season through several scatter graphs.

The dataset used includes all Scottish Premiership centre-backs that have played a minimum of 400 league minutes this season. Each metric is per 90 with all data sourced from Wyscout.  

This is of course a very small sample of games with at least another 300-400 minutes of data required to draw any kind of definitive conclusions about whether he has shown enough to suggest he still can make it at Celtic.  

However, this can still give some insight into how Scales has performed in the opening weeks of the season for his loan club.

Defensive duels

Celtic Way: RossRoss (Image: Ross)

The first scatter above shows how Scales has performed when it comes to defensive duels so far this season.

He has been involved in an above-average number of defensive duels compared to his centre-back counterparts (5.48 per 90). Impressively, he boasts the third highest defensive duels won percentage, winning 81.25% of them in the opening weeks of the 2022/23 season.

Aerial duels

Celtic Way: RossRoss (Image: Ross)

Scales has not been as successful in his aerial duels compared to his defensive duels. However, they are still solid with a win rate of 62.16% just above average for a centre-back in the Scottish Premiership so far this season. 

In terms of volume, he has contested 6.33 aerial duels per 90, again, just above average.

General defending

Celtic Way:

The final defensive scatter shows possession-adjusted (PAdj) interceptions and shots blocked per 90.

He has been fairly active in stepping in to intercept with his 10.82 PAdj Interceptions among the most of any centre-back in the Premiership so far.

His 0.34 shots blocked per 90 is below average mark but given Aberdeen’s just under 54% average possession, this is perhaps to be expected.

General Passing

Celtic Way: RossRoss (Image: Ross)

The above general passing scatter gives an initial picture of how Scales has performed when in possession.

So far in the league, he has averaged 47.91 passes per 90 with an above-average completion percentage of 86.43% in his first 526 minutes of league action for Aberdeen.

Progressive actions

Celtic Way: RossRoss (Image: Ross)

General passing numbers don’t tell us too much though. To get a more detailed look at how Scales has performed with the ball, the next scatter shows progressive actions – progressive runs per 90 and also the number of successful progressive passes completed.

Here, Celtic’s Cameron Carter-Vickers, Rangers’ Conor Goldson and Hibs’ Ryan Porteous are the early outliers with Scales showing up next best.

He has averaged 1.2 progressive runs while he also has the highest average successful progressive passes per 90 of any of the Aberdeen defenders included here with 6.50.

Passes to the final third

Celtic Way:

The final scatter shows how well Scales, and each of the Premiership centre-backs included in the dataset here, have performed when it comes to progressing the ball into the final third.

Again, there are a few expected outliers, including Carter-Vickers, but again, Scales show up well too. His volume of passes to the final third (6.67 per 90) is around the same as his Aberdeen counterpart Anthony Stewart while his accuracy rate (61.54%) is above average, although not quite as high as his other teammate Ross McCrorie.


Scales does appear to have made an encouraging start to his loan spell in the Granite City, albeit we are only in the very early stages of the season.

It is certainly still far too early to say whether the Irishman does still have a future at Celtic Park or not.

However, at this stage, it seems the decision not to make the transfer a permanent one, and not include an option to buy, was the smart move.

Should Scales continue to perform at similar levels then, a reasonable fee could still be recouped, should his future indeed lie away from Glasgow’s east end.

If he maintains and perhaps improves his levels of performance throughout the rest of the season though, he might well still offer an option at centre-back for Ange Postecoglou in the long term.

Given the performances of Celtic’s two current backup defenders in Paisley last weekend, Scales should definitely not be written off yet.