Matt O’Riley: “Still a young player and you’ve got to expect some inconsistency,” Chris Sutton

Chris Sutton reckons that Matt O’Riley should be cut some slack from those who are complaining about the Danish international going off the boil somewhat since the short winter break.

Huge burden to carry

The former Celtic striker dismisses the theory that the Atletico Madrid bid for his services in the January transfer window that was rejected by Celtic, has somehow unsettled the former MK Dons midfielder. He reminds the Celtic support this morning that O’Riley is a young player and this season through various circumstances, he’s been given a huge burden to carry in the Celtic engine room alongside club captain Callum McGregor.

“At this time O’Riley was struggling to even get in the starting 11 as Aaron Mooy enjoyed a run of games after the new year. He’s still a young player and you’ve got to expect some inconsistency,” Chris Sutton noted in his weekly column in Daily Record.

The former Celtic striker continued: “I still believe O’Riley has been one of Celtic’s top performers this season. And I don’t think for a second his form is related to the January transfer talk. If anything, that stuff should inspire him. When you look at his performances in the Champions League, in the home games against Atletico and Lazio in particular, you’d expect more interest in him in the summer.

A big money offer

“If a big money offer comes in then I don’t think fans would grudge him a big move. A lot could depend on his performances from now until the end of term though.

“I don’t think he’ll lose focus. He seems a level headed lad and didn’t throw the toys out of the pram when Celtic refused to sell him.

Sutton continued: “The Atletico Madrid bid obviously wasn’t good enough and he was too important a player to let go at such a crucial time. It’s more of a coincidence his numbers have slipped slightly in terms of goals and assists but there’s no doubt he’s got a huge part to play in the run in.

Brendan Rodgers with Reo Hatateduring a training session at Lennoxtown ) (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Hatate coming back will be a major boost

“You are looking to your key players to stand up and be counted at this time of the season – and O’Riley definitely falls into that category. It’s going to be all hands on decks after the international break. Reo Hatate coming back will be a major boost – and it will be important he hits the ground running. The lack of a definite timescale for McGregor is a bit of a concern.”

Danish despair turns to delight 

Matt O’Riley will have been bitterly disappointed to have narrowly missed out on a place in the Denmark squad earlier this week. However that despair turned to delight as he received a late call-up due to injuries elsewhere.

This now gives him a platform to make the Denmark squad for Euro2024 and to do that he will have to re-discover his early season sparkle that made him head and shoulders the top player in Scottish football this season.

Do that and we could see the player who drives Celtic to a very special double.  It will be interesting to see how Matt O’Riley performs this afternoon against St Johnstone at Celtic Park after getting the good news from Denmark.  He might just start to look like his old self.

Tags Celtic news Chris Sutton Latest Celtic news Matt O'Riley
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