As the right-back situation continues to look more troublesome ahead of the summer, will Lee O’Connor ever have a bigger chance to make it at Celtic?
O’Connor signed back in the summer of 2019. However, since then, it’s fair to say opportunities with the first-team have been sparse.
Much was expected of the Republic of Ireland under-21 international when he first signed. After all, he had played over 100 games at youth level for Manchester United and had previously captained their under-18s and under-23s side [Transfermarkt].
It looked a shrewd move by Neil Lennon to sign him up. Fast forward over 19 months however and he’s yet to make his Celtic debut. Watching on as the likes of Jeremie Frimpong, Hatem Elhamed, and Moritz Bauer featured ahead of him, a move was needed.
A temporary loan spell with Partick Thistle has been followed up with a season-long loan at Tranmere Rovers in League Two. It’s been the right-back’s first taste of regular senior football over the course of a season. So far, he’s managed an impeccable 36 appearances [Transfermarkt] and earned rave reviews in the process.
Lee O’Connor close to a major Celtic opportunity
O’Connor’s only human, so surely he’s noticed the monumental opportunity that’s opening up for him this summer.
All three players mentioned above who were playing ahead of him, have now left the club. Elhamed went back home to Israel whilst Bauer returned to parent club Stoke City. Frimpong, meanwhile, sealed a mega-money move to Bayer Leverkusen.
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Celtic recruited Jonjoe Kenny as our only reliable senior right-back in January. He has nobody pushing him in the position, but at the same time he’s only here on loan. Kenny has struggled to impress, and after making several errors in two Glasgow Derby games, he’s likely to return to Goodison Park.
There’s a situation unfolding where O’Connor will return to Parkhead the only viable right-back. Yes, we’ll still have Anthony Ralston, but he will be into the final year of his contract and it’s become pretty clear he isn’t the long-term option.
But there’s still hope for O’Connor. Whilst there will undoubtedly be a signing or two at right-back over the summer, he has a golden opportunity to impress the new manager before he makes a decision on the position.
It looks almost certain that Lee will get some of the pre-season fixtures next term. He’ll pretty much be the only option available. If he’s going to make it at Celtic, he’ll never get a better opportunity than when he comes back.