Michael Stewart can't get enough of Matt O'Riley after brilliant start to life at Celtic

By David Walton

February 3, 2022

BBC Sportscene pundit Michael Stewart cannot get enough of new Celtic signing Matt O’Riley after a stunning start to his Parkhead career.

O’Riley has slotted into the Celtic midfield like a glove over the last fortnight. Making his debut at Tynecastle last Wednesday, the former MK Dons man managed to show his footballing intelligence and midfield bite as he instantly commanded a place in the team.

The player would then make a similar impression at Celtic Park against Dundee United on Saturday before an electric display in his first Glasgow derby as he helped dominate the midfield battle.

Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

And as the likes of Reo Hatate and Liel Abada continue to get well-earned praise for their efforts last night, Stewart isn’t keen on letting O’Riley slip the radar.

Speaking on Sportscene, Stewart said: “Brilliant, he was absolutely outstanding. I think when you look at Hatate and you see his energy, you see exactly the same with Matt O’Riley. Energy and dynamism in the middle of the part. Real composure, and you see him getting beyond the striker and getting into those dangerous areas.

“He was fantastic. Great energy and real composure. Strength, composure, never flustered. I’ve got to say the performance at Tynecastle from Matt O’Riley as well and there tonight, he’s a really top player. I

“t just adds more strength in depth.”

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Matt O’Riley has claimed a starting spot of his own at Celtic

When we went to Tynecastle last week minus Tom Rogic and Yosuke Ideguchi, it always felt as though O’Riley was being thrown in because we had no other options. As if he would’ve been back out of the side whenever the absentees returned.

However, now, you simply can’t drop the man who cost Celtic £1.5m [BBC]. He’s put in starring displays against 3 of the best sides in the Premiership. There’s absolutely no need for him to drop out, and given his energy levels, he looks like he can keep going for some time yet.

Of course, rotation will still be a necessity in the coming months. Celtic have as many as 9 games between now and March 6th. There’s going to be plenty of time for Rogic to return and Ideguchi to get more minutes whenever his injury knock heals.

Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Let’s also not forget that David Turnbull is set to come back at the end of February. Continuing to bag winning performances without the former Motherwell man is massive, and it shows the depth O’Riley has managed to bring to the football club.

When Celtic pitch up at Fir Park on Sunday, not many will bank on O’Riley being left out. Why would you? His momentum at the moment is fantastic and his morale appears to be sky-high. He’ll be looking to continue his reputation-building amongst the Hoops supporters with another top display.

Ange is going to need all of his midfielders between now and the summer. But there can be no doubt that O’Riley is a lot higher in the pecking order than many of us would’ve believed.

In other news, Liel Abada Celtic derby heroics leaves Neil McCann fuming on Sportscene; calls out Barisic