O’Riley leads the way in skipper’s absence


Much is made of the fact that Callum McGregor regularly plays something close to sixty games a season for Celtic, such is the intensity of the modern football calendar.

Given his commitment to the cause he’d exceed that tally if it were left up to him, but the brakes have been put on his season temporarily with an enforced layoff which will be sure to frustrate Celtic’s skipper.


We now know that the injury sustained against RB Leipzig in Germany will keep the twenty nine year old out until after the World Cup break and as a result Ange Postecoglou will have to find a plan B for his midfield engine room.

Many thought that summer signing Oliver Abildgaard was the ready made replacement for McGregor – and he may well be over the long term – but in a slightly surprising move the prime candidate to emerge in that sitting midfield role has been Matt O’Riley.

The twenty one year old has shown a maturity beyond his years since joining the club in January and displayed another side to his game with assured performances against both St Johnstone and RB Leipzig in the heart of Celtic’s midfield.

Until now the young Dane has almost exclusively been deployed in the more advance midfield role alongside Reo Hatate and it’s been impressive to see him adapt into the deeper role in recent days.

It’s little wonder that his name has been mentioned in scouting circles as he’s a huge asset for the club and one that Ange Postecoglou will want to hold on to for as long as possible.That may become even more challenging should he manage to make the full Denmark squad for Qatar!

Celtic players react after the UEFA Champions League Group F match between Celtic FC and RB Leipzig, at the Celtic Park on October 11, 2022. Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)


Including today’s visit by Hibs we face NINE fixtures across three competitions with the final one taking place against Ross County just four weeks today on Saturday 12 November.

It’s a relentless schedule for the players with very little recovery time between games and it may come down to survival of the fittest as Ange looks to call on all possible options during this spell.

This presents those who have been on the periphery of the first team with an opportunity to show that they can play a key part in our success over the coming weeks.

Joining Callum McGregor on the injury list – at least temporarily – are Jota, David Turnbull and Stephen Welsh, and frustrating as it will be for those players to miss out, this opens the doors to other to show what they bring to the party.

Whilst he’s shown glimpses of his talent, Sead Haksabanovic is yet to truly catch fire at Celtic but will almost certainly start the game against Hibs and I’d back him to score his first goal for the Hoops on this occasion.
Another who has a good chance of starting is the experienced James Forrest with many debating that he done enough midweek to show that he’s worthy of his first start of the season.

Celtic’s Japanese striker Daizen Maeda. Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images

In addition to that Ange will also have a big call to make on whether the misfiring Daizen Maeda retains his place, and also if he’s joined by countryman Kyogo Furuhashi – who has just one goal from his last eight outings.
We should find out shortly before 2pm what XI the manager has gone for ahead of the visit of 3rd placed Hibs as the Hoops go all out to extend their lead at the top of the table to five points.

Join Tino & Mif here as they preview the Hibs game and also discuss our recent Champions League exploits in the lastest episode of The Warm Up Show.

Celtic v Hibernian  –  James Forrest with the matchball after scoring a hat-trick during the cinch Premiership match at Celtic Park,  Saturday October 15, 2022. Photo Steve Welsh

READ THIS…Ange Postecoglou’s shout-out for James Forrest’s “outstanding achievement”

About Author

A child of the 80s, I have hazy memories of being at the Centenary Cup final at Hampden in May 1988 as we won the league & cup double, but then had to wait almost exactly a decade for our next league title as Wim Jansen & Co stopped the 10! I’m the founder and host of The Celtic Exchange podcast where we now produce several shows per week covering all things Celtic.

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