MATT O’RILEY and his Celtic midfield team-mates have been firing blanks since the start of the season.
The Hoops have scored 10 goals in three wins over Aberdeen, Ross County and Kilmarnock with four of that total coming from defenders – Moritz Jenz (2), Stephen Welsh and Carl Starfelt.
Kyogo Furuhashi and Filipe Jota have shared four goals while Liel Abada and Giorgos Giakoumakis have pitched in with the others.
However, O’Riley, skipper Callum McGregor and David Turnbull have yet to contribute while Reo Hatate has only figured in 66 minutes of action after limping off on the opening-day 2-0 victory over the Dons.
HOOP HOOP HOORAY…Matt O’Riley congratulates Moritz Jenz on his overhead-kick strike in the 5-0 win over Kilmarnock, the German defender’s second goal for the Hoops. Filipe Jota and Kyogo Furuhashi join in.
The London-born Danish Under-21 playmaker, a £1.5million bargain buy from third-tier MK Dons in January, is not panicking about the situation as the champions prepare for Sunday’s visit of Hearts, beaten 2-1 by Zurich in Switzerland in the first leg of their Europa League qualifier last night.
O’Riley said: “It’s important that we have a spread of goals from all over the team. That’s the case especially with the way teams play against us in Scotland.
“They really try to stop us from playing our game and we need to find a way past that. Take the Ross County game as an example. They were following the midfielders all over the pitch.
“I would run out wide and that left Cameron Carter-Vickers with the space to run all the way up the pitch and shoot. That kind of shows that we will have to use as many options, and resources, as we can to score in certain games this season.
MATT FINISIH…midfielder O’Riley watches his low shot elude Hearts keeper Craig Gordon in the 4-1 win on May 7 on the Hoops’ triumphant march towards the title. Liel Abada gets a close-up view.
“Sometimes, we need to wear teams down and then look for the openings after 60-70 minutes. Spaces can open up even more at that point and I think late goals could be quite common this season with the way teams are being set up.
“Being patient is important, we need to find the space when we can and then it’s a case of being clinical when we get the chances.”
O’Riley, speaking to the Daily Record, continued: “Having extra training time does help some of the new boys adjust to the way we are playing.
“This four-week spell when we don’t have midweek games should help us a lot. The players’ bodies will get used to the training and that’s good, as come September it is going to be pretty full on. Having this period is going to help us later in the season.”
The draw for the Champions League group stages while be made on Thursday and by this time next week Ange Postecoglou and his players will know their three opponents.
THE GOAL ROUTINE…Kyogo Furuhashi and Filipe Jota celebrate the Japanese ace’s opening goal strike against Kilmarnock. The Portuguese winger was on target to make it 2-0 later on.
The 21-year-old stylish middle-of-the-park operator added: “I haven’t actually thought about the Champions League that much. We are very process-focused at Celtic and it’s very much about the day to day. It’s about training and preparing for the next game.
“We know the draw is coming up and there are going to be massive teams in it. When the group comes out, I will have a think about the competition a bit more.
“But this month has been about focusing on the league games every weekend. It’s all about the present and what we control. The next game is always the biggest at Celtic. That’s how it is. With the amount of fixtures at this club, there is no other option.
“We could end up playing over 60 games this season so you can’t afford to think too far ahead.
“Let’s be patient, focus on the next game and take it all as it comes.”