Recent Celtic recruit Lee O’Connor may end up getting his first senior international cap before he plays for Celtic under Neil Lennon.
The summer signing from Manchester United is yet to make a matchday squad under the Northern Irishman. However, O’Connor is clearly fancied by the Republic of Ireland international setup – as was shown on Thursday.
The 19-year-old was called up to Mick McCarthy’s squad for next week’s friendly against New Zealand with the Irish Times also reporting that McCarthy hinted at a possible debut for the right-back.
The paper also reports that O’Connor will join up with his usual under-21 teammates following the friendly match. The defender is suspended for the first of the 21s’ matches – against Armenia – after being sent off in a game last month.
Had O’Connor been eligible for that Armenia clash you really wonder if he would’ve got the call from McCarthy. The teenager is an important player for the youth side and would likely not have been fast-tracked to the senior side otherwise.
It’s strange how a red card can help your international career.
Lennon should take note of O’Connor
Whatever the reason for O’Connor’s surprising call-up, Neil Lennon must now realise the potential of the player he has at his disposal.
The Celtic faithful have already seen the wonder of the similarly aged Jeremie Frimpong. The full-back has leapt onto the scene at Parkhead and become one of the big success stories in recent months.
Many would hold out a similar hope for O’Connor given his experience of being in the Manchester United youth setup. Lennon isn’t exactly blessed for defensive options at present so you would really hope he gives O’Connor a chance in the coming months.
The Irishman clearly has something about him to be called up to for his national team despite not playing a club match in months. If Celtic can tap into that undoubted talent we could be on to another winner.