MATT O’RILEY admits captain Callum McGregor is irreplaceable.
However, the Danish Under-21 international midfielder is up for giving it his best shot while the Hoops’ inspirational onfield leader is sidelined for at least 10 games with a knee injury sustained in the first-half of the 3-1 loss to RB Leipzig last week.
O’Riley is ready to attempt to replicate the role when the Bundesliga outfit play at Parkhead in the return game in the Group F of the Champions League this evening.
IN WITH A SHOUT…Matt O’Riley has something to say as the Celtic players assemble for the huddle before kick-off against St Johnstone in Perth.
It’s not exactly a journey into the soccer unknown for the London-born performer who arrived in a bargain £1.5million switch from English third-tier MK Dons in the January transfer window and has seen his value soar with a consistent sequence of high-quality performances.
O’Riley took over the duties of his skipper in the dramatic 2-1 triumph over St Johnstone in Perth at the weekend.
The stylish 21-year-old star admitted: “You can’t really replace Cal, not even just his football side, just what he brings as a character in the team.
“I’m not thinking about it on a personal level, to be honest, I’m just there to do what I can do in that position.
“Naturally, Cal is a big loss, we know that, probably the most important player in the team just because of everything he brings. But, saying that, I think we have enough characters and enough good players to hopefully keep the performance levels high.”
THREE CHEERS…Callum McGregor and Matt O’Riley celebrate with Josip Juranovic after another Celtic goal.
McGregor will be out until after the World Cup Finals in December and O’Riley was handed the responsibility for the captain’s holding role against the Perth club.
O’Riley, speaking to the Daily Record, added: “I enjoyed it. I have done it before in the past. Maybe not in the exact same system, but I feel comfortable in terms of what I need to do.
“It’s obviously different to what I am used to at the moment, I have been playing slightly higher up, so structurally it’s slightly different. But because our structure is so clear, and we all know what we are doing, dropping in isn’t so difficult.
“I obviously know where Cal needed to be when he was playing there, so that helps from having that relationship with him when he was there. I feel good about it.
ACTION MAN…Matt O’Riley turns on the style against Ross County in Dingwall earlier in the season.
“I have done it in the past, so I feel comfortable playing any midfield role. Through my young academy career, I played all around.
“At MK Dons, we played with two deeper ones and two in front, more like a box. But in terms of being deeper down the pitch, it’s the same concept.
“At Fulham, we played for a while with the same midfield shape, although slight details are different in terms of restrictions on where you are supposed to be going.
“Those experiences in the past have definitely helped me get a good understanding of what I need to do here.”
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