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Celtic: Matt O’Riley proved why he should be going to Qatar

It has proven a mixed week for Celtic‘s World Cup hopefuls, with a number of Parkhead figures having learned their fate regarding their potential involvement in Qatar.

The Japanese duo of Reo Hatate and Kyogo Furuhashi were left out of their nation’s 26-man squad, albeit with compatriot Daizen Maeda earning an inclusion, while summer signing Aaron Mooy secured his place in Australia’s travelling party.

The Hoops’ stand-in skipper Cameron Carter-Vickers was also rewarded for his fine form over the past 12 months or so – having notably been dubbed the “best player in Scotland last season” by ex-Bhoys striker, Chris Sutton (BT Sport, 05/10/22) – after earning a place in the USA squad earlier this week.

That call-up has no doubt been warranted for a figure who has arguably been the “best centre half I’ve seen at Celtic since [Virgil] Van Dijk, in the words of Northern Ireland international, Ryan McLaughlin, with the 24-year-old having been vital to the Glasgow side’s title success last season after keeping 17 clean sheets in 33 league games.

For all the former Tottenham Hotspur man’s brilliance, there is another in Postecoglou’s squad who was also deserving of a World Cup berth in the form of Matt O’Riley, with the 21-year-old having been perhaps harshly snubbed by Denmark boss Kasper Hjulmand.

The London-born playmaker has only featured for the Scandinavian nation’s U21 side to date, although had seemingly put himself firmly in the mix for a role in the senior set-up as a result of his stunning form at club level.

The former MK Dons gem – who arrived in Scotland on a £1.5m deal in January – has been turning heads with his composed and mature displays in the centre of the park, having again proved his worth during Wednesday’s victory over Motherwell at Fir Park.

That hard-fought, 2-1 triumph saw the 6 foot 2 ace notably tee up the aforementioned Kyogo with a delightful pullback after superbly winning back possession in the opposition penalty area, with that goal involvement having been his seventh assist in just 14 Scottish Premiership games this term.

The one-time Fulham man was arguably the star performer on the day having recorded a match rating of 7.8, as per SofaScore – by far the highest among his teammates – after notably registering an impressive haul of four key passes from his 80 touches.

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Not just a creative asset, however, the silky “magician” – as dubbed by talent scout Jacek Kulig – also showcased his defensive strength after recording four clearances, three interceptions and two tackles, having thrived after taking on a deeper role in the absence of skipper, Callum McGregor.

That quality has not just been evident on the domestic front with O’Riley having recently swooped the Man of the Match award following the Champions League draw with Shakhtar Donetsk at Parkhead, having previously also shown his class in the home defeat to holders Real Madrid.

That display saw journalist Guillem Balague notably state that: “He did not look out of place at all against Madrid and will reach bigger highs for sure”, with such praise seemingly an indication that he can thrive on the elite level.

The £12k-per-week ace will now have to wait to demonstrate his brilliance on the international stage, with Hjulmand having potentially missed a trick by not giving him a chance to shine.

Article title: Celtic: Matt O’Riley proved why he should be going to Qatar

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