Pundit Paul John Dykes has slammed Celtic’s level of squad management in recent years as bemoaned the current troubles the Hoops have in the right-back position.
Celtic are currently pretty bare on the right flank of defence, with loanee Jonjoe Kenny returning to Everton and Anthony Ralston – who had made just a single appearance last term – signing a short-term extension.
Dykes turned to youngster Lee O’Connor when dissecting the team’s issues at full-back, stating alongside the club’s poor decision-making that has led to such a dire situation, O’Connor was tipped to potentially break through in the same vein as Jeremie Frimpong, who eventually made the role his own before departing for Bayer Leverkusen in January.
O’Connor was loaned out to Tranmere Rovers by Celtic during the 2020/21 campaign. He had joined the Bhoys from Manchester United in the summer of 2019 and the defender is already a full international for the Ireland national team.
Dykes talked about O’Connor and his time at Celtic, when the pundit hosted the latest episode of the ‘A Celtic State of Mind’ podcast. He revealed something that was told to him about O’Connor, saying that the youngster was expected to be at the same level as Jeremie Frimpong.
Does O'Connor have a future at Celtic?
Frimpong, though, has already left and sealed a move to Bayer Leverkusen last January. Dykes talked about O’Connor and said:
“We’ve been talking about this for months about the squad management at Celtic, and it’s not something that’s happened overnight.
“It’s something that’s set in over a long period of time.
“Now we’re in a situation where we’ve got two guys in there, one who is untested at our level – I know that he played about 40 games for Tranmere last season, he an internationalist – I remember when he signed for Celtic, the Man U fans were unhappy, the club had let this promising youngster go.
“And at that time, speaking to someone at Celtic, they said they weren’t sure who from Frimpong and O’Connor would make the breakthrough into the first team. Because they were neck and neck in terms of their own potential. We know what’s happened with Frimpong – he’s gone away from £11.5 million to German football.”
TIF Thoughts on Lee O’Connor…
But Celtic sold Frimpong and even Hatem Abd Elhamed left last season, which means that they are short in the right-back department. Anthony Ralston is their only senior out-and-out option at right-back, as it stands (per Transfermarkt).
So the upcoming campaign might be O’Connor’s best chance of playing for the first team and if Celtic don’t sign another right-back, the Irishman should be fancying his chances.
But you do have to wonder how Celtic are left taking chances on as-yet unproven talents.