O’Riley on Blackburn: “They were feisty, a bit nasty and left a few on a few of us”

After yesterday’s 2-2 draw with Blackburn Rovers Ange Postecoglou confirmed that he plans to sign two players probably this coming week as he gears his squad up for an intense fixture list of around 60 games starting with the Scottish Premiership opener against Aberdeen at the end of the month.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND – JULY 16: Blackburn Rovers manager Jon Dahl Tommasson is seen during the Pre-Season Friendly match between Celtic and Blackburn Rovers on July 16, 2022 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

“We’re definitely going to add a couple of players and would expect to do that in the next seven days,” the Celtic manager revealed at his post-match media conference, as reported by Scottish Sun.

“We’ve had to be patient and that’s much more important than rushing. I’m confident we’re close to the end point. The squad is looking really good but on days like this we want to make sure we don’t lose our effectiveness when a couple are missing.”

Yesterday Celtic did indeed have a couple missing with Reo Hatate and Giorgos Giakoumakis both unavailable. Ange was happy to give an update on both. “Reo fell ill yesterday. We could have given him 30 minutes but unfortunately for him we flogged him. Gio has taken a couple of personal days as his missus is due. We sent a personal trainer so he’s not getting away with that.

“Having the Champions League on a weekly basis will add stress to the squad which is why I’m keen to bring in a couple – to make sure we’re strong and robust. Last year it affected our ability to perform at a really high level. I don’t think it’ll be a bigger squad, just more robust with quality.”

The star of the show against a tough tackling Blackburn Rovers side who were aided by the liberal interpretation of the laws of the game from referee Kevin Clancy, was our superstar from Portugal and for Ange he reckons that the sky is the limit for Jota.

“There’s no ceiling to his potential. He probably struggled during the week,” the Celtic manager said. “All the players are working hard and aren’t feeling 100 percent going into games – and he’s one.

“Especially attacking players, they rely on feeling fresh and their athleticism and speed.

“But Jota was good. I know people said we’ve re-signed two players but we’ve signed two better players. That’s why we brought them in. There’s no reason why Jota can’t go further. Last year was probably the first season he’s settled somewhere.

“You got the sense he felt really good at the club within this group and that was his first real year at making an impact. Our job is to take him to the next level and give him that chance. He’s focused and I’m sure he’ll do that.”

Meanwhile Celtic midfielder Matt O’Riley added his own praise for Jota but was much less complimentary about the English Championship side who he reckons were a bit nasty and the injury incurred by Anthony Ralston was cited as an example of the visitors approach to stopping Celtic.

On Jota, O’Riley said: “He’s not bad is he? He’s a great guy which is the most important thing. But on the pitch he’s good to watch. I think everyone enjoyed the piece of skill. He said it’s the first time he’s tried it in a game.”

And on Blackburn Rovers: “They were feisty, a bit nasty and left a few on a few of us. Tony’s boot was split in half, which says enough, but it was competitive and it’s what we want.

“We have to handle it because we’ll come up against teams in the Scottish Prem who’ll try to kick us to try to stop us. But if we’re on it with the counter press and crisp on the ball the rest will take care of itself.”

About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor, who has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email editor@thecelticstar.co.uk

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