Celtic star looks on the bright side of World Cup close call
Celtic midfielder Matt O’Riley has opened up on missing out on the Denmark squad heading for the Qatar 2022 World Cup this month.
The 22-year-old officially switched his alliances to Denmark, having previously featured for England at under-16 and under-18 levels.
Earlier in 2022, O’Riley made his debut for the Denmark under-21s side and featured a further five times as they failed to qualify for the u21 European Championship.
Having starred for Celtic since his arrival from MK Dons in January, O’Riley is now a key member of Ange Postecoglou’s squad.
The former Fulham man has made 22 appearances for the Hoops this campaign, including all six of Celtic’s UEFA Champions League outings against Real Madrid, RB Leipzig and Shakhtar Donetsk.
Following his impressive form this year, there were some suggestions that O’Riley could make a late run for the Denmark squad heading for the Qatar World Cup.
However, the midfielder missed out on the 26-man squad, who will be taking on France, Tunisia and Celtic teammate Aaron Mooy’s Australia.
Speaking for the first time since the Denmark squad was confirmed, O’Riley admitted he was disappointed to miss out, but having held conversations with the national team’s manager, he understands the decision.
He said [Daily Record]: “I was really disappointed. I spoke with the manager (Kasper Hjulmand), and I think I was close. I think it was just a tiny bit soon for me, by the sound of it.
“He was saying that the lead-up to this World Cup was quite a strange one. There weren’t a lot of training sessions before, so to integrate me would’ve been a bit difficult.
“So I kind of understood that. But then again, hopefully, there are going to be more opportunities for me next year. So if I keep my form, keep improving, then hopefully, I’ll be involved. The fact I got so close in a relatively short period of time is a definite positive.”
After missing out, O’Riley joins key stars such as Kyogo Furuhashi, Reo Hatate and Jota, who will be remaining at home over the winter break.
However, he is looking at the positives of that break, insisting it gives the Hoops players some time to rest before returning next month.
He continued: “I know it will sound weird, but this rest will do me good too. I should be able to come back in a really good place. I’ve been lucky enough to stay fit so far for the season.
“I’ve played a lot of football. Just coming back fresh, I think that, will really help me to kick on again. To improve my level even more would be really good.”
World Cup break will have Celtic stars rested, recuperated and ready to go for domestic return.
Despite coming away disappointed from missing out on the World Cup, there is a positive aspect for the players and Celtic.
Rather than flying to the other side of the world, they will instead head for an early break before going out to Portugal for a warm-weather training camp.
So, the likes of O’Riley will be rested, recuperated and ready to go for the competitive domestic return against Aberdeen at Pittodrie next month.
There should hopefully be plenty of opportunities for O’Riley going forward, with the Danish coaching staff holding high hopes for the Celtic midfielder in the future.
In other news, Celtic’s eight day holiday and a looming December return to get Celtic Park buzzing.