Callum McGregor praised by Celtic teammate Matt O’Riley

Matt O’Riley has revealed that just having Callum McGregor’s presence in and around that Celtic changing room is vital for the Hoops, irrespective of whether the captain can play at Ibrox or not.

The Danish international has been the mainstay in that midfield area this season and has had to hold things together during turbulent times.

It’s been a long and winding road this campaign for everyone involved with the club as speculation and conjecture have dogged what should have been a productive and harmonious homecoming for the Prodigal Son, Brendan Rodgers. It hasn’t panned out that way but even though that may be the case, Celtic can still put themselves in a great position to retain their Scottish Premiership Crown by winning at Ibrox against theRangers this Sunday.

We may very well have to do it without McGregor as he will need assessed beforehand. “Each game is somewhat of a cup final both for us and respectfully, theRangers. So it’s very close and I think Sunday’s game is going to be probably a close battle. So yeah, everything is important.

When quizzed directly on the benefit of having McGregor back and helping the team, O’Riley stated: “Always helps, yeah. I think just having Cal in the changing room especially will help massively. Just being there, leading by example. He speaks really well in the changing room before games as well, which I think is really important. Yeah, it will be a massive boost if he’s there.”

Matt also opened up on his own season and admitted it’s been another learning curve in what is fast-becoming a bog career in the game. “Pretty eventful like every other season as you know. I’ve learned a lot. Probably the most I’ve learnt in a season because I’m playing 90 minutes quite regularly, which I’m fortunate to say. Mentally, I think I’m in the best space I’ve probably ever been, which I think has probably translated onto the pitch.

“No secrets there. Just being honest. What I’ve done away from the pitch in terms of my meditation, my speaking with my coaches has really gone to the next level now. Naturally, obviously probably improved as a player as well. I’m more experienced now as well. So that always helps. But I don’t think I’m ridiculously different from previous seasons. Just getting a little bit luckier in front of goal as well.”

On the transfer chat around the 22-year-old and the actual bid Celtic received from Atletico Madrid for his services in January, he said: “If I’m being honest. The first two or three games after the transfer windows, mentally, that was a slight challenge because I felt somewhat of an added pressure on my shoulders. But then I realised I didn’t know why I was putting extra pressure on myself. I didn’t really need to change anything. So I kind of just came away from that and focussed on what I bring to the team.

“It kind of clicked back into place again. That’s what I mean about each season being eventful. Regardless of whether it’s going well, it presents a different challenge. Bids are great and things like that. But it can potentially be a negative if you don’t look at it from the right way as well. So it’s another thing to learn you going forward.”

When asked if being a full international has helped raise his game, Matt agreed, saying: “Yeah, it’s been really good for me. It’s another experience. Different language, different tactics, different style of play. Playing with players from really good teams as well which has been something that I’ve really enjoyed. Of course I’d like to go to the Euros in the summer. We’ll see what happens.”

Paul Gillespie

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About Author

I'm a Garngad Bhoy through and through. My first ever Celtic game was a friendly against Italian side Parma at Celtic Park, in 2002. Currently a student of English Literature and Education at the University of Strathclyde for my sins. Favourite game would be a toss up between beating Manchester United with that Naka freekick, or the game against the Oldco when Hesselink scored in the dying seconds. I'm still convinced Cal Mac is wasted playing that far back.

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