CELTIC hero Peter Grant has high hopes for new Bhoy Matt O’Riley.
The former Hoops midfield star reckons the 21-year-old £1.5million signing from MK Dons in January needs game-time at Parkhead.
Grant worked with the youngster during his time at Fulham Academy and has charted his progress since leaving Craven Cottage to move to the English third tier to get more of a chance to develop his skills.
Former England youth cap O’Riley is poised to make his international debut at Under-21 level for Denmark, country of his mother’s birth, against Belgium in the Euro Championships on Tuesday and knows he will be kept sharp at Parkhead with competition from Tom Rogic, Reo Hatate, David Turnbulll and others.
Looking at the Ange Postecoglou squad rebuild, Grant said: “The biggest thing they have is options all over the place and in midfield they have an abundance of it.
“In midfield, there was always a concern about losing Tom Rogic and not having a replacement for him and also him going through 90 minutes.
“There’s been a big change in that and also you have the addition of O’Riley, who I like.
“I’ve known Matt for a long time and he has the quality. I spent a long time in England and Scottish football gets knocked, but, when people come here, they can soon see the quality in it.
“Last weekend against Ross County, there was Matt with Nir Bitton coming on and also David Turnbull.
“That’s what a manager wants all of the time. Matt didn’t even start the game and, of course, there is Callum McGregor.
“It’s the rotation in there. You see Hatate, he does a lot of work without the ball sometimes just in the fact he’s dragging players out of position to create space.
“As a midfielder, that’s fantastic because when you have guys like McGregor, the likes of Jota are intelligent enough to get into the spaces which others create by moving.”
Focusing on O’Riley, Grant, speaking to the Daily Record, continued: “It’s not just about football ability at a club like Celtic.
“The environment and the games he was asked to go into in his first couple of weeks was a big ask. Hearts away and Rangers, matches like that.
“I had no worries about Matt in possession of the ball because I know he can command it, but there are some players who go to Celtic with fantastic reputations and just can’t handle playing for them.
“Matt just seems to have grown with it and the thing I’d like to see is him constantly playing.
“People like rotation these days, but I feel Matt is one of those you will get the best out of if he is consistently playing because he missed a bit of football when he was younger.”
Grant added: “I understand the modern game, the tempo of the way Celtic play and the demands means there might be changes now and again, but Matt needs those games in his legs.
“That’s why he had his best season for MK Dons last year, the amount of games he was playing. But there is an abundance of talent in the middle of the pitch for the manager to choose from.
“It’s the same in many ways with the front line. Kyogo Furuhashi has been out for a long time, but people don’t talk about it as much with Giorgos Giakoumakis doing so well.
“I’ve watched Giakoumakis play and always thought his movement was excellent. I just didn’t think Celtic put the ball in the box enough. You can see if you do that, he will score.
“Celtic make substitutions now and the pace doesn’t drop.
“It shows the manager knows the players to keep on the pitch.”