Scottish champions Celtic will no doubt be keeping a close eye on developments at the World Cup in Qatar, with a handful of the Old Firm outfit’s key figures having been selected to represent their country at the tournament.
One Hoops star who has already taken to the field this week is Aaron Mooy, with the 32-year-old seeing his spirited Australia side suffer a 4-1 defeat at the hands of holders France, as Les Bleus’ ruthless forward line ultimately proved the difference.
Prior to the Socceroos’ late collapse, it had initially been a strong performance from the unfancied side against Didier Deschamps’ men, with Mooy and his teammates really taking the game to the European powerhouse.
The former Brighton and Hove Albion man was not the only player with a Parkhead connection to impress on the night, however, with fellow midfielder Jackson Irvine having perhaps left the Hoops regretting their decision to move him on all those years ago.
The 29-year-old was previously part of the Glasgow side’s academy after joining in 2010, although would go on to record just a solitary appearance in the green and white jersey before leaving for Ross County in 2015, having been cast out by then-boss Ronny Deila.
The 6 foot 2 ace would prove something of a “revelation” after joining Burton Albion a year later – according to manager Nigel Clough – after netting ten times during the 2016/17 campaign, having since gone on to enjoy spells at Hull City, Hibernian and current side, FC St.Pauli.
That latest spell in Germany has proven particularly profitable for the 49-cap gem having netted three times in 16 games in the second tier this season, taking that strong form into the tournament in Qatar.
Not overawed by facing Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and the like, Irvine produced an eye-catching display against the world champions, winning two tackles and recording two interceptions from his midfield berth in his 85-minute outing.
One of his 44 touches on the night saw the industrious gem come close to drawing his side level just before the break, only to see his header cruelly strike the post with opposition ‘keeper Hugo Lloris having seemingly been beaten.
That outing was notably lauded by The Guardian’s Jonathan Howcroft, who wrote of the £1.7m-rated man’s display: ‘Graham Arnold promised plenty of bite from his side but it only materialised in the form of Irvine. He could have been booked a handful of times before he was eventually cautioned but he lived up to the demand for “Aussie DNA”. Skimmed the post with a first-half header.’
A player who current Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou knows all about with the 57-year-old having coached Irvine in the national side, the experienced asset could well have been a player to have thrived in the current set-up at Paradise.
While not a high profile nor superstar name, letting the Aussie star depart has potentially proven a notable mistake as far as the Bhoys are concerned.