Matt O’Riley’s ‘big incentive’ as Celtic star earns glowing verdict after Denmark breakthrough


Ange Postecoglou believes Matt O’Riley can push his way into Denmark’s World Cup 2022 plans.

And the Celtic boss admits he’s delighted to see so many of his Parkhead stars in the mix for places in this year’s showpiece in Qatar.

Postecoglou has troops scattered across the globe representing their countries during the last international break of the season.

For some coaches, it’s a worrying time as they sweat over players returning without injury. Postecoglou, however, is happy to see members of his squad out in the field.

A former international manager himself with Australia, the 56-year-old sees great benefit in Celtic stars joining up with their nations.

O’Riley is away for the first time having been chosen by Denmark’s Under-21 coach Jesper Sorensen for the clash against Belgium on Tuesday.

It’s a rapid rise for the midfielder who only signed from MK Dons two months ago.


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O’Riley has slotted seamlessly into life at Celtic and his instant form led to the shout from the Danes.

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The senior side have already booked their place in Qatar having sauntered through Scotland’s section and coach Kaspar Hjulmund is now piecing together his long-term plans for the big one in the Middle East.

Postecoglou knows that O’Riley has a long way to go before he gets into that set-up, but says it’s a target to aim for and believes his charge can use it as big motivation in the coming months.

He said: “I’m super pleased for him. International football will be great for him. It will add to him as a player and as a person, experiencing a different environment, even training with different types of players.

“It will be brilliant for him. I’ve said before, I think international football is great for players, especially young players, and I’m sure he’ll take a lot from it.

“I think it’s fully served as well. He was great before he came to us but since he came here he’s handled himself really well, particularly in big games.

“I’m sure in the back of his mind he’ll be thinking there’s a World Cup at the end of the year.

“It’s a big incentive for him. That’s what international football gives to players.

“Whether or not that comes too soon for him, who knows, but I’m sure he’ll do everything in his power.”

As well as O’Riley, Postecoglou’s squad are everywhere. Liel Abada and Stephen Welsh are also on Under-21 duty with Israel and Scotland respectively.

On the senior front, Callum McGregor and Greg Taylor are with Scotland, while Nir Bitton is with Israel.

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Josip Juranovic has joined up with Croatia, while Giorgos Giakouamkis’ hot form earned him a recall from Greece.

The striker’s hat-trick against Ross County took him to 12 goals in 22 games with all but one of those efforts coming since the return from the winter break.

Celtic star Carl Starfelt has been called up for Sweden

Postecoglou said: “I think what’s more important than how he is finishing is how he is getting into the areas we’re needing.”

Carl Starfelt is another to be on his travels to represent Sweden and the manager has been delighted with the form of his center back.

Postecoglou said: “Carl has been outstanding for us. I’m very pleased to see him back in. He deserves his call up as well.”

The 56-year-old also has a vested interest in the other side of the world as his own nation attempts for glory.

The manager hopes the Socceroos can make Qatar, although the absence of Tom Rogic due to an ankle issue kept him out of yesterday’s game with Japan. Daizen Maeda and Kyogo Furuhashi also missed out, but Reo Hatate was involved in Sydney and now heads to Vietnam.

Postecoglou must now wait for them all to return before making his definitive plans for the next Premiership clash against Rangers at Ibrox on Sunday week.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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