Lee O'Connor already has a big decision to make on his Celtic future

By David Walton

August 2, 2021

Lee O’Connor should’ve been bustling his way into Celtic first-team contention this summer, now, he should be thinking seriously about his short-term future.

O’Connor was signed in the summer of 2019 by Neil Lennon. At the time, it looked a real coup given the Republic of Ireland international was a hot prospect in the Man Utd academy.

But fast forward two years and the right-back still hasn’t made a single competitive appearance. And it’s fair to say that this summer should’ve been his big moment to shine.

O’Connor had just spent the previous campaign on loan with Tranmere Rovers. It proved to be the most productive period he’s had since signing for Celtic. O’Connor secured 42 senior appearances and looked ready to make his mark under new manager Ange Postecoglou [Transfermarkt].

The picture couldn’t have been painted anymore perfectly for him either. Jonjoe Kenny went back to Everton whilst Jeremie Frimpong and Hatem Elhamed departed several months previous. Celtic had a major right-back shortage, with only Anthony Ralston available as an alternative.

If you’d have asked Celtic fans whether they’d want Ralston or O’Connor to be featuring from pre-season, many would’ve gone with the latter. After all, we know Ralston’s limits, and they’re not of the standard required at Parkhead.

Yet, for one reason or another, Postecoglou hasn’t put his faith in O’Connor. After a couple of pre-season cameos, the Irishman has been firmly behind Ralston in the pecking order.

Lee O’Connor must have a think about Celtic future after falling behind Anthony Ralston

Whilst you could say being second choice is hardly a major concern, it’s well known that Celtic want to upgrade in the position [Daily Mail]. It’s almost certain the Hoops will strengthen at right-back, and that would again bump O’Connor down the pecking order further.

All of a sudden, this fresh start is going to leave him in exactly the same position he was in last summer. Third choice with no substantive first-team action in sight.

O’Connor’s Celtic contract runs until the summer of 2023, so there’s still time to make an impact. But for one reason or another Postecoglou doesn’t feel he’s there just yet.

Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

As we enter the final month of the transfer window then, the right-back has a big decision to make. Another loan move at this point looks like the correct option for his career. It would give him one more shot to impress at a decent level and prove to the manager he deserves more of an opportunity here.

But let’s not pretend he’s going to get first-team minutes under the current situation. This was a big summer for him, and it simply hasn’t gone to plan. Even this early into the season, he has to decide what he wants for the campaign ahead.

If he’s serious about still making it at Parkhead? He’ll go out and prove his worth elsewhere.

In other news, Celtic have bizarrely spent the summer extending Ange Postecoglou’s to-do list