Celtic prospect Lee O'Connor set to make Republic of Ireland debut

By John McGinley

November 13, 2019

Summer Celtic signing Lee O’Connor is set to make his senior international debut for the Republic of Ireland this week, the national team have announced on Twitter.

Mick McCarthy has confirmed that the teenager will start for his country against New Zealand in a friendly on Thursday.

O’Connor has been a regular for Ireland’s U21s side since March and impressed in a 0-0 qualifying draw against Italy last month (RTE).

He signed for Celtic during the summer transfer window from Manchester United but has so far failed to make his debut in Neil Lennon’s team.

O’Connor can play in a number of defensive positions but his preferred role is at centre-half where Christopher Jullien and Kristoffer Ajer have formed a partnership.

It’ll certainly be interesting to see where he lines up for McCarthy’s side and how he performs.

(Photo By Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Huge opportunity

Having had to settle for reserve and development football at Celtic this season, the Ireland match represents a huge opportunity for O’Connor to impress in a more competitive and high profile environment.

Last month, the defender talked up his happiness with the move to Celtic Park and stated his ambitions to impress the coaching staff and make it into the first-team.

As quoted by The Daily Record, he said: “I’ve been enjoying it. I’m just settling in at the moment, I’m just looking forward to playing my football and showing them what I can do.

“At the moment, I’m just looking to get a run of games (at underage level) and show them why they’ve got me there. Hopefully, the coaching staff will see and next pre-season, I can show the first-team manager that I’m capable enough to make the step.”

Not only will the first cap for his country be a proud moment, but also a potential catalyst towards making an impact in the Hoops starting eleven. The international inclusion could accelerate the timeline O’Connor discusses if he has a particularly good game.

Jeremie Frimpong has set the standard that young players need to aspire to in the Celtic first-team, can the Irish 19-year-old follow in his footsteps after his Dublin bow?