Celtic midfielder backed to attract World Cup attention

By Dave Flanigan

August 4, 2022

Former Celtic captain Paul Lambert has backed current star Matt O’Riley to stay at Celtic and secure his place at the Qatar World Cup, amid speculation linking the midfielder to the Premier League.

O’Riley made his debut for the Denmark U-21s in March and will be looking to fast-track his progress to the first team for his international side with the World Cup looming.

Speaking to The Glasgow Times, Lambert said: “If you are playing with Celtic, and especially as they are in the Champions League group stages this year as well, if you perform on that stage then I wouldn’t worry about what might happen in terms of the international side of things.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

“He’s not going to get a bigger stage than playing in the Champions League, that’s for sure, that’s where everybody wants to play. If he performs with Celtic and then performs in the Champions League, then he will be getting watched.”

Lambert has been impressed by what he’s seen of the prospective international so far, who signed for the Hoops in January from MK Dons and become a key man almost overnight.

Lambert said: “I think he’s surprised a lot of people with just how good he is. He came in under the radar a wee bit, even with the supporters. He was a young kid but he took his chance.

“He’s got good awareness. He receives the ball very well, he’s got good feet and looks comfortable with both. His game knowledge is pretty decent, but he’s young and that will get even better when it comes to the defensive side of it.

“The space he can generate for himself is really good, and he makes the game look easy by doing the simple things well. That’s not always an easy thing to say to footballers, to just keep it simple, they want to do the flashy side of the game. But he does the simple side of the game really well.

“If he keeps his feet on the ground and keeps doing what he’s doing, stays humble, then they have got a really good player on their hands there. If he’s doing well then he’s going to attract attention, that’s normal, but he seems humble and if he understands what the club is all about and what it stands for, then he’ll be fine.”

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

67 Hail Hail exclusively revealed last week that despite reports, Leicester City had no interest in the 21 year old, but his impressive performances in green and white are likely to draw suitors eventually.

With his contract running until 2026, it would likely take an astronomical fee to tempt the club into selling the midfielder, should any concrete interest materialise before the end of the window.

In the meantime, he will be looking to build on his fine showing in the 2-0 win over Aberdeen at Celtic Park when the champions visit Dingwall to face Ross County on Saturday.

In other news: The 2021 Celtic summer signing whose future still needs to be resolved.