MATT O’RILEY celebrates his 22nd birthday today and insists he is a lucky Bhoy.
Celtic’s stylish midfielder admits he escaped a broken leg after a wild challenge from Everton defender Isaac Price in the goalless draw in the Sydney Super Cup at the Accor Stadium yesterday.
Amazingly, the referee took no action as he awarded the Hoops a first-half free-kick, but the reckless tackle could have resulted in serious injury for the Hoops star and merited a straight red card, as the CQN match reporter described it in his summary.
O’Riley said: “I got lucky. I’m not even sure he got booked.
SEEING RED…Matt O’Riley escaped a broken leg in Sydney.
“I think because it was only a friendly the ref didn’t want to give a red card. But it’s a red card every other day.
“It was on my knee. I got a big mark from it.
“I had a word with the referee. He was trying to explain it to me, but I didn’t really understand.
“On another day, I get my leg broken. When I watched it back I realised I got lucky.”
O’Riley was involved in the action in Australia, but, of course, there had been a chance the player who arrived on a bargain £1.5million move from third-tier MK Dons in January could have been strutting his stuff among the elite in Qatar.
The birthday Bhoy may have been preparing for his World Cup debut with his adopted nation Denmark – his mother is Danish – when they open their bid against Tunisia tomorrow.
The smooth operator just missed out on a spot in Kasper Hjulmand’s squad with the country also due to take on holders France and Australia in the Middle East soccer showpiece.
KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON WINNING…Matt O’Riley offers some advice to his Celtic team-mates.
Reflecting on his omission, Under-21 cap O’Riley admitted: “I was really disappointed.
“I spoke with the manager and I think I was close. I think it was just a tiny bit soon for me by the sound of it.
“He was saying that the lead-up to this World Cup was quite a strange one.
“There weren’t a lot of training sessions before, so to integrate me would have been a bit difficult, so I kind of understood.
“Hopefully, there’s going to be more opportunities for me next year.
“If I keep my form and keep improving, hopefully I’ll be involved.”
O’Riley, speaking to the Scottish Sun, added: “The fact I got so close in a relatively short period of time is a definite positive.
“I know it will sound weird, but this rest will do me good, too. I should be able to come back in a really good place.
“I’ve been lucky enough to stay fit so far for the season. I’ve played a lot football.
“Just coming back fresh, I think that will help me kick on again.”