MATT O’RILEY has made a 16-goal contribution from midfield during Celtic march towards the treble target.
The London-born Danish Under-21 midfielder doubled his striking tally with a pair in the 4-1 victory over Kilmarnock at Rugby Park last weekend.
O’Riley, who signed for a bargain £1.5million from English third-tier club MK Dons in January last year, claimed his first strike of the season in the 5-1 Scottish Cup win over St Mirren at Parkhead in February and followed that up with his second in an identical league triumph in Paisley the following month.
PICK IT OUT…Matt O’Riley leaves Kilmarnock keeper Sam Walker sprawling and his defenders stranded as he scores one of his double in the 4-1 victory at Rugby Park last weekend.
He has also provided 12 assists, including the sweet left-wing cross that was expertly tucked away by Kyogo Furuhashi for the first of his double in the 2-1 derby success earlier this month.
After the elegant playmaker’s total of four goals in only 16 league outings in his first four months at the champions that may seem like a drop in standards.
However, one man not one bit concerned is manager Ange Postecoglou who insisted he doesn’t “worry about goals and assists.”
As he prepares for tomorrow’s visit of Motherwell on the countdown to his second consecutive title, the 57-year-old Greek-Australian gaffer said: “We work in a public space and that allows people to have an opinion.
“But as I keep telling the lads the most important opinion, the one that really counts, is the one within these walls. And Matt has had nothing but positive feedback from us.
BEST FOOT FORWARD…Matt O’Riley gets his first – and Celtic’s third – against Killie with defender Liam Donnelly too late to intervene.
“I think he’s shown sustained growth this year. It’s his second year playing at such a high level – 18 months, really, given we signed him halfway through last season. He has taken on some enormous challenges this year.
“He’s played Champions League football, he’s played a couple of different positions for us. I’m delighted that at the age of 22 what he’s achieved for us so far – and there is even more to come.”
O’Riley had expressed his disappointment at the lack of a goal return in this campaign, but Postecoglou, speaking to The Scotsman, added: “You know what, mate? All the kids want plenty of presents for Christmas.
“Sometimes they need to be grateful for what they have got. The bottom line is Matt has been outstanding for us.
“I don’t worry about goals and assists. I get it that is what gives them a thrill.
“What’s more important for us is he’s a big contributor to us being where we are at the moment.”
SUFFERING SAINTS…Matt O’Riley slots home his second goal in as many months against the Paisley side in Cetic’s 5-1 league win last month. Oh Hyeon-gyu gets a close-up view.
O’Riley pelaced Aaron Mooy and played the final 25 minutes of the 2-1 League Cup victory over Michael Beale’s side at Hampden in February.
He has his sights firmly set on a return to the national stadium a week on Sunday against the Ibrox outfit as he intends playing his part in helping the Hoops to the Scottish Cup Final on June 3.
Before that, though, there is the important business of another three points against Stuart Kettlewell’s team that will push the title kings’ advantage to a massive 15 points 24 hours before their nearest challengers take on Aberdeen at Pittordrie.