MATT O’RILEY and Liel Abada are the only two players who have featured in every single one of Celtic’s 39 games this season.

Coincidentally, both scored after coming off the substitutes’ bench in the 5-1 victory over St Mirren in Paisley on Sunday as the champions restored their nine-point advantage at the Premiership summit.

O’Riley and Abada want to keep the sequence going in Ange Postecoglou’s 100th game in charge of the Hoops when Hearts are the visitors to the east end of Glasgow tomorrow night.

And the teams, of course, go head to head again in the Scottish Cup quarter-final at Tynecastle with a 12.15pm kick-off on Saturday.

BY THE RIGHT…Matt O’Riley sidefoots in his first league goal of the season in Celtic’s 5-1 win over St Mirren.

The smooth midfielder operator, a bargain £1.5million recruit from English third-tier outfit MK Dons in January last year, said: “I’m looking forward to it like I look forward to all games. I think we all are.

“It’s quite a unique experience in that we’re playing the same team twice in three days.

“If we play the football that we know we can, then I think we’ll be just fine. Away games tend to be probably a bit more difficult against them, but, at the same time, if we remain calm like we can do, then I think we’ll be okay.”

Nine of O’Riley’s appearances in the current crusade have come from the bench and the London-born Danish Under-21 international has to compete with the likes of Aaron Mooy, Reo Hatate, David Turnbull and Tomoki Iwata for a place in the engine room beside skipper Callum McGregor.

The competition is fierce, and the 22-year-old stylish performer, speaking to Celtic TV, continued: “It’s good, it’s always a positive the more competition you have.

“People would be lying if they said they played their best football when they don’t have competition.

“I think you naturally play better when people are pushing you to perform at a higher level, so in that sense it’s definitely a positive.

“And from a training perspective, everyone is training well, no-one is sulking behind each other’s back, we’re all still rooting for the same goal at the end of the day and if someone else is doing well it also pushes you to do well.”

THREE CHEERS…Matt O’Riley, Filipe Jota and Carl Starfelt celebrate the League Cup success last month.

O’Riley added: “The more confident we are as a team, we probably play better, but the message has been since the break to try to push on and take ourselves to a new level.

“I think we’ve probably done that for the most part. We’ve conceded hardly any goals which has been a massive plus and allows our creative players to play with a bit more freedom, because we don’t have to worry so much about conceding that many goals.

”Whether you are on the bench or whether you are starting, you’ve got to be ready to play at any time.

“Someone could get injured, unfortunately, or something could happen where you need to come on earlier than expected, so the important thing is being ready regardless.

“And, obviously, the way we play, as well, a lot of times in games the last half-hour the opposition tend to be quite tired, so there’s usually quite a lot of space and gaps open up.

“So, if you are ready and focused, there are definitely chances to impact the game.

“Of course, you’d like to start every game, but at the same time we know we’ve got a lot of healthy competition here, so it’s not always the case, but at the same time, you’ve always got to be ready.”

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