Matt O'Riley's superb attitude on show as he addresses lack of Celtic starts

By David Walton

April 11, 2022

Celtic midfielder Matt O’Riley’s brilliant attitude was on show after the Hoops’ win over St Johnstone as he lauded the rotation policy currently in place.

O’Riley’s starting XI opportunities have dried up in recent weeks as Celtic get used to one match per week. It comes after a hectic period in which the Hoops were on a constant schedule of 3 games per week that led to players being taken out and opportunities for others.

Former MK Dons man O’Riley has only started 1 league match since late February. However, he’s been substituted on in all the rest and made a big impact with a brace against St Johnstone on Saturday.

Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

And when asked about whether the rotation policy currently in place suits him, the midfielder said the following to Declan McConville:

“I think so yes, especially earlier in the season when we had loads of games. I think there were 3 games per week so it was probably a bit more easier to rotate and I think that’s why the squad is really essential.

“Even now you see our bench – the strength in depth is pretty crazy. But in terms of going forward if we’re able to change things, then with the way we’ll play then we’ll need to freshen it up because everyone needs to press really intensely. So I think it’s perfect to be honest.

“I’m obviously disappointed when I’m left out of the team but at the same time I know I’m always going to get the chance to try and influence it. So at the end of the day that’s the main thing.”

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Matt O’Riley shows a mentality of being committed to the Celtic cause

So often when a player isn’t getting much in the way of starts you can hear their frustration shine through. However, that’s not something that came across when listening to O’Riley here.

In fact, judging by his words, he’s happy to put personal opportunity aside for what’s best for the team. That’s a fantastic attitude to have. He hasn’t shown a single scintilla of frustration here despite often being overlooked for the likes of Reo Hatate and Tom Rogic.

But at the same time, he makes a vital point. So much of Celtic’s calendar for a season is filled with 3 games every week. That means it’s essential that the manager has a packed squad to choose from and it’s exactly why we saw more of O’Riley in the first part of the year.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

This is a special time of the football season and we’re now at such a delicate stage of proceedings. Titles and cup medals are now starting to be dished out. Ange has to go with an XI he thinks is his best for so many of these fixtures. At the moment, he simply doesn’t see Matt in that XI.

That’s no slight on him of course. It’s simply due to the fact the likes of Hatate and Rogic currently have some terrific momentum behind them. Taking either of them out and placing O’Riley in doesn’t necessarily reduce the quality levels, but it is essentially fixing something that isn’t broken. So long as both Hatate and Rogic are fully fit of course.

O’Riley knows his chance to become a Celtic undroppable will come. But between now and summer, it’s all about playing his part. That looks to be as a substitute for now, despite the impressive brace on Saturday.

In other news, Celtic’s potential £40m windfall has nothing to do with luck or rivals