"Can put the ball on a toadstool from 70 yds"; Recent League 1 boss raves about Celtic's O'Riley

By John McGinley

January 21, 2022

Steve Evans, who was working as a manager in English League One as recently as this month, has been raving about new Celtic signing Matt O’Riley.

Evans knows O’Riley’s ability well having seen him come through the English youth systems and eventually play against his own teams.

The Celtic daft boss, who was most recently at Gillingham, reckons Celtic have a fine young player on their hands and have fended off stiff competition for his signature.

Photo by Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images

Speaking to The Scottish Sun, Evans said: “This season there’s no doubt he’s gone up a level and I know Celtic have beaten off strong interest in the kid, albeit at Championship level.

“O’Riley’s got a great left foot. He can put the ball on a toadstool from 70 yards, don’t worry about that. He’ll pass it all over the pitch.

“I can see him doing well at Celtic — a team that controls the ball in virtually every game. Celtic, of course, also play in Europe and I couldn’t say for sure how he’ll find that level. I’ve only really seen him play League One. However, no one can question his ability.

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“Constructively, he’ll need to adapt to close attention up there. If he tries to take the time on the ball he’s often had down here then he’ll be stampeded. I’ll be interested to see how he deals with close attention. But, overall, I believe Celtic have got a very good player.”

Obviously, there will be a period of adjustment for O’Riley at Celtic. As Ange Postecoglou said in his press conference today, he’s ready to play but that doesn’t mean he’ll play immediately.

He needs to get used to the way Celtic play for starters, then impose himself on matches despite the rough and tumble of the Scottish Premiership.

Given his stature and experience in the English lower leagues, I’m not expecting many problems on that front.

In other news, “With reluctance”; MK Dons react to Matt O’Riley sale to Celtic; confirm Bhoys used clause.