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‘WHOLE NEW BALL-GAME AT WALSALL,’ ADMITS O’CONNELL

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ON-LOAN Celtic defender Eoghan O’Connell reckons he will benefit greatly from his spell at Walsall.

The Republic of Ireland Under-21 centre-half admitted he is enjoying the physical challenge of playing in the English third tier.

O’Connell, who arrived at the club last month and will stay until the end of the season, has played five times for the Saddlers – and has yet to sample defeat.

The classy back-four operator has won three and drawn two of the games as the team have edged to within four points of the League One play-off positions.

O’Connell, who made seven appearances for the Hoops earlier in the campaign, is convinced his stint in England will help him develop as a player.

He said: “Celtic are very dominant in the games in Scotland, so it’s all about what you do with the ball.

“Here, I have to work on the defensive side of the game and how to deal with pressure.

“Games in League One are very even. The games we have won have been quiet tight. There have been points when they could go either way.

“Take the Millwall game, for example. We had to fight to take a good point away from home.

“I think that is a very important aspect of the game and that is what I have to improve on.”

The defender has impressed his new fans with his ability to bring the ball out of defence.

He said: “When I was younger – before I went to Scotland – I played quite a lot in midfield and up front.

“My instincts tend to be when I get the ball is to take on the opponent, so I have to fight against it!”

O’Connell, who is out of contract in the summer, added: “I think settling in as quickly as you can is the most difficult challenge when you go out on loan.

“Getting to know everyone and making yourself comfortable. You have to gain respect and trust from your team-mates – that’s very important.

“But since day one I noticed everyone is brilliant and nice to be around. This is a great place to be and I am really enjoying it.”

 
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