Recent Celtic recruit Lee O’Connor is keeping a level head as he continues his wait for a first appearance under Neil Lennon.
The 19-year-old has the unusual distinction of having made his full international debut before playing a senior club match. He played the entirety of his country Ireland’s friendly win over New Zealand last week before dropping back down to under-21 level and scoring in a 4-1 rout of Sweden.
O’Connor’s Ireland call-up suggests that he could have a part to play for Celtic soon enough. But the teenager is keeping a level head as he awaits the shout from Lennon.
“I think I’ve performed quite well in the two games,” he told The 42 after that Sweden win. “Hopefully they see that and definitely that’s what’s next for me and that’s what I want to do.
“I feel there are opportunities there. That is why I went there ultimately, to play first-team football. Whether that comes this year or next year, I’m just biding my time. Hopefully, when I get thrown in, I’m showing him I should be staying there.
“I was at Manchester United for four years, there’s competition wherever you go. Celtic are a top club, there’s going to be competition, but it’s not a bad thing. I hope to get better, train every day, improve [rivals for a first-team spot], so it’s a good thing in my opinion.”
O’Connor should pinpoint Hamilton clash at Celtic Park
O’Connor’s turn of pace for his goal on Tuesday night was that of a right-back. That’s hardly surprising given that’s where he’s been played in the main by both Stephen Kenny and Mick McCarthy at international level.
But the teenager may have to change his role to get an opportunity for Celtic. He stands a far better chance of earning an opportunity in the centre of defence, than at right-back where we have a surplus of talent.
It would be great to see O’Connor given an opportunity to show what he can do before the turn of the year. We’ll play 11 games over the next six weeks so there should be plenty of chances for him to stake a claim.
Every game at Celtic is important, of course, but there are a few clashes where we could afford to rotate the side. The midweek game against Hamilton in December looks like an ideal opportunity to do so. Given that the Betfred Cup final against Rangers arrives four days after that, you would think the likes of O’Connor would fancy their chances of easing the pressure on the starting line-up.
The youngster won’t feature in either of our final two Europa League games as he isn’t registered but another league clash against St. Mirren could also give him an opportunity of action.