Forgotten Celtic loanee beginning to shine in England; playing in new position

By David Walton

November 24, 2021

Forgotten Celtic man Lee O’Connor is finally beginning to pick up some momentum with English League Two club Tranmere Rovers.

It had been a frustrating start to the campaign for O’Connor, who was only given 3 cameo appearances out of a possible 11. Manager Micky Mellon, who hadn’t always included him in his matchday squads either, appeared not to favour the Ireland Under-21 international.

However, O’Connor has managed to pick things up in recent weeks. He’s played the full 90 minutes in 3 of the club’s last 4 matches. His latest being in the 2-1 win over Bradford City last night.

Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images

Interestingly, all 3 of those starts have come in a previously alien central midfield position. Speaking after the Bradford win via Tranmere Rovers’ official YouTube account, O’Connor was just delighted to be back on the pitch more than anything:

“Yeah I love it, I don’t mind. As long as I’m playing. I’ve said it many, many times I’m happy. My job is to help the team win. So wherever the gaffer sees me helping the team to win then I’m more than happy to do that.

“We’ve got plenty of options. The squad is fantastic this year so anyone who comes in is going to do a job. I think you kind of know when you come it’s completely different to under-23s football. I learned that last year. You have to adapt.

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“Like I said I’ll play anywhere. So long as I’m playing then I’m happy. Wherever I’m needed I’m more than happy to do it.”

Lee O’Connor looking for another big season of development away from Celtic

Last year was a huge one for Lee when he played in his first loan spell with Tranmere. He racked up 42 appearances for the League Two club and even helped take them to the final of the EFL Trophy. He’s more than earned his spot there for another campaign.

But we’re now into late November and it’s only now that O’Connor is making his mark in League Two. Even then, it’s not in the position Ange Postecoglou would’ve wanted him to gain experience in. It’s fair to say he would have a better chance of making an impression in a full-back area than as another midfielder.

There was a time when it looked as though O’Connor was set for a chance with the club just months ago. With a lack of right-backs at the club, it looked as though Ange may have had to go with him due to the selection crisis we had.

Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

However, it didn’t work out that way and Lee was swiftly sent back to Tranmere for the season. Now, it’s all about making the most of it and getting as many appearances as he can to his name.

His contract at Celtic runs until the summer of 2023. Therefore, there’s still another pre-season for O’Connor to potentially impress in. But the only way he’s going to get the chance to do that is if he shines with Tranmere in the coming months.

Now that he’s finally broken into the team, this is his big opportunity to do just that.

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