Celtic managerial dallying gives Lee O'Connor a big pre-season opportunity

By David Walton

June 9, 2021

Celtic’s failure to bag a manager in quick fashion has opened a door of opportunity for Lee O’Connor.

The managerial dallying of the football club has put transfer plans on hold. It had been assumed that Eddie Howe may have been spending weeks working on potential targets for the club. However, a breakdown in those talks a fortnight ago meant the club was back at square one.

Now, it looks as though Ange Postecoglou is set to be our new manager. However, he reportedly wouldn’t arrive until after the start of pre-season [Daily Record]. That means it could be a while before we see any transfer targets brought to the club.

Meanwhile, O’Connor returns to the club as our only potential senior right-back. Anthony Ralston is still at Parkhead, but it’s been clear in the past that he isn’t at the level required.

O’Connor, however, has just come off an impressive season in England. On loan at Tranmere, he bagged 42 appearances en route to the playoff semi-finals [Transfermarkt]. His season would end with a call-up to the Republic of Ireland squad for their recent fixtures against Andorra and Hungary respectively.

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Lee O’Connor has a chance to make an impression on Ange Postecoglou

When Postecoglou arrives, he’ll likely want a look at the squad before he makes his decisions. This gives O’Connor an incredible chance to make himself stand out for the right-back position. The departure of Jonjoe Kenny means that we don’t actually have a senior right-back available.

By the time Postecoglou hooks up with the squad, we could be well into our pre-season camp in June. This will likely give O’Connor the chance to compete in pre-season friendlies against the likes of Charlton Athletic, Bristol City, and Sheffield United respectively.

In the last two campaigns, O’Connor has arrived at Celtic with plenty of talent ahead of him. He’s had to battle the likes of Hatem Elhamed, Jeremie Frimpong, and Moritz Bauer for a spot. All of those players are now out the door, and O’Connor is now in line to show the new boss what he’s got.

Lee O’Connor in action for Tranmere against Morecambe (Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images)

Had Celtic gotten their manager in earlier, some quick deals could’ve been done with the transfer window opening this month. With the prep work that would’ve gone on behind the scenes, it could’ve allowed the club to strike early in the window.

But recruitment is now hardly imminent. It will now take time for the new manager to evaluate his new squad. He’ll want to see where he’s at in every position, and even if he brings in a senior right-back (which he’ll need to), he could be impressed with O’Connor should he take his chance.

The Ireland international had never had a better chance to make it at Celtic. Let’s hope he takes it.

In other news, Celtic should consider a move for the prolific J-League winger who thrived under Ange Postecoglou.