NORTHERN IRELAND international right-back Lee O’Connor revealed why he had to leave Celtic.

The 21-year-old defender quit Parkhead to agree a permanent switch to Tranmere Rovers after spending all of last season and a chunk of the current campaign on loan at the League Two outfit.

The Waterford man left Manchester United for the Hoops in September 2019, but Neil Lennon’s signing never featured in a first-team competitive game.

O’Connor is looking forward to working with Rovers boss Micky Mallon, the former Dundee United gaffer, and said: “It is something I’ve wanted to do for a while as I’ve loved my time here so far.

“From the first day I’ve come, I’ve really enjoyed it. Not just am I enjoying it personally, but with football, I think I’m developing really well. I just want to continue that.”

ON THE MOVE…Lee O’Connor has agreed a permanent move to Tranmere Rovers.

Asked if it had been an easy decision to leave the Hoops, O’Connor, speaking to a media outlet, answered: “In the grand scheme of things, it was. I felt this was the best thing for me, the best thing for my career. On that point, it probably was an easy decision.

“The football development, I think I’m developing well here. To play your best football, you have to be happy as well, and I’m happy here.”

Tranmere are currently second in the English fourth-tier, seven points behind leaders Forest Green. O’Connor has become an important player in their push for promotion, being utilised in both midfield and defence.

O’Connor joined the side on a temporary transfer in late August and added: “It took me a while to get up to speed. The team’s doing well now. We’re a very close knit group and it’s great to be a part of it.

“I came from Under-23s football, reserve football. There’s a lot to get used to. Every game, I’m understanding the game a bit more. The man’s game, it’s a lot different.

“Everyone says it to you when you come, that it’s going to be different, but I don’t think you can tell someone what the difference is. I think I’m getting a grasp of it.”

Boss Mallon added: “We’re really pleased to sign Lee permanently.

“It’s really important that we have our own players when possible and everyone understands that. We’re really appreciative of our loan players, but we’d always like to have players of Lee’s quality as our own player.”

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