Celtic defender Lee O'Connor given rave review after Tranmere Rovers cameo
Celtic defender Lee O’Connor was only given an 8-minute cameo by Tranmere Rovers on Saturday, but still managed to come out of the game with plenty of credit.
O’Connor was utilised for the closing stages of Saturday’s 2-1 win against Crawley Town. Fellow Celt Ross Doohan was also involved as he played 90 minutes in the success.
Yet whilst Doohan has been making his mark in the team, it’s been more of a struggle for 2019 Celtic signing O’Connor. The 21-year-old has only played 110 minutes out of a possible 540. He’s struggled for regular minutes as Rovers continue their positive early-season form.
But after contributing on Saturday for the final 8 minutes plus stoppage time, he earned some much-needed praise for how he coped as he looks to get back into the Rovers side regularly once again.
Speaking via his own club’s YouTube channel, assistant manager Ian Dawes said: “You talk about Lee’s qualities and you talk about Clarke (the club captain) having got the desire and Lee is exactly that.
“Lee will throw himself into anything to keep the ball out of the back of the net. That’s the type of character we want on the pitch.
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“We knew with him coming on with ten minutes to go, it just solidified us a little bit and help us get more control and stop them scoring.”
Celtic man Lee O’Connor still looking for momentum with Tranmere Rovers
It’s been anything but an ideal start to the season for O’Connor. After a productive campaign with the League One side last season, he’ll have hoped to have reclaimed his place in the side by then.
Not that it’s O’Connor’s final chance to impress Celtic by any means. His contract at Parkhead runs until the summer of 2023. He still has another year left after his current spell with Tranmere.
But even so, he’ll be looking to catch the eye of Ange Postecoglou. Considering the manager’s philosophy of integrating young talent if good enough, O’Connor should be all over making himself a potential option next summer.
Having only played 28 minutes in League Two so far isn’t ideal. His only 90-minute outing was against Leeds U23s in the EFL Trophy. His main priority now will be to seize the right-back spot for himself with his loan club. That is, after all, why he was sent to Rovers in the first place.
It’s a big year for O’Connor. Celtic have hardly solved their right-back issue at the moment. Anthony Ralston isn’t looking as influential as he was in the early stages of the camapaign whilst Josip Juranovic has still to prove himself too.
If Lee can come back to Parkhead this summer with a run of first-team games under his belt, it gives him a big chance to impress in pre-season. Hopefully, the praise from Dawes helps spur him on in his quest for more game-time.