MATT O’RILEY is on the verge of his first senior medal – just four months after joining Celtic in a £1.5million switch from English third-tier outfit MK Dons at the turn of the year.

The 21-year-old stylish midfielder has settled into Ange Postecoglou’s system as though he has been at Parkhead for several seasons.

O’Riley has hit the ground running and he could get a quickfire reward this weekend with the Hoops aiming to move nine points ahead in their quest for the Premiership title with a win over Hearts in the midday kick-off at Parkhead today.

If Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side fail to beat Dundee United at Ibrox tomorrow, the championship will have Celtic’s name on it.

They may have to wait until the midweek trip to Tannadice to face Dundee United to cement the crown, but one thing is certain – the flag WILL be flying in the east end of Glasgow for the tenth time in 11 years at the completion of a remarkable campaign.

However, O’Riley said: “We don’t feel as though we’ve cracked it yet, we don’t feel as though we’re a great team, we still think there’s a lot more we need to do to be at that next level.

“We’re just going to try to keep improving game-by-game.

“Hearts is not an easy game, so we’re going to approach it with the utmost respect to them and, hopefully, we can just take care of business.”

The middle-of-the-park performer, speaking to the Celtic website, continued: “We expect a tough game, it always is a tough game. I remember my debut at their place so I know what it’s like personally already, which is a good experience to have.

“We all know that they’re a strong team, they wouldn’t be in third place and they wouldn’t be in a Cup Final if they weren’t a good team, so we’re going to have to be more than ready for it.”

Reflecting on last weekend’s 1-1 derby deadlock, O’Riley said: “For the majority of the game we managed it well. Obviously, they had some good chances towards the end, but I think from an outside point of view it gets looked at a bit differently.

“I was disappointed with a draw, to be honest. I thought it was a game we were more than capable of winning, especially with the chances we had, but it wasn’t meant to be.

“After the game we all sat down and said we can’t be hard on ourselves, we’re six points ahead and in a good place, so the mood was pretty good overall.

“There’s no time for celebrations yet, there’s still a lot of football to be played.

“Again, from an outside point of view, it looks like it’s potentially close to being finished.

“But, from where we are, we have a lot more work to do to close it over the line, so no celebrations. Once we hopefully do it, we can focus on that.”

O’Riley had a personal celebration to enjoy after picking up the Premiership Goal of the Month following one of his strikes in the 7-0 win over St Johnstone in a one-sided romp.

The former England Youth international added: “I think I only touched the ball a couple of times in the build-up, so I have to say thank you to most of the team for that one because there were a lot of passes before the final shot, but it’s pretty cool to win it, so I’m happy about that.”

* DON’T miss the unbeatable match report from Celtic v Hearts at Parkhead this afternoon – only in your champion CQN.

Click Here for Comments >

About Author