Celtic V Motherwell at Celtic Park : Match Preview

By
09 August 2016
Celtic V Motherwell - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.


Eoghan O'Connell confident he can retain his Celtic place

Celtic youngster Eoghan O'Connell has unshakeable belief in his ability to retain his place in an over-subscribed Hoops defence.

The 20-year-old centre-back made his Celtic debut against Ross County at Parkhead in March 2014, but progression was neither quick nor smooth, and two loan spells at Oldham and home town club Cork City last season ended through ankle and groin injuries respectively.

Defenders Dedryck Boyata and Jozo Simunovic missed the start of this campaign through injury and when Erik Sviatchenko picked up a groin complaint it allowed O'Connell to impress new boss Brendan Rodgers and, although former Arsenal and Manchester City star Kolo Toure was added to the squad, the Irishman kept his place at the expense of Efe Ambrose.

O'Connell is certain to play in the Betfred Cup last-16 tie against Motherwell at Celtic Park on Wednesday night as Ambrose is suspended and Toure a doubt after playing his first 90 minutes of the season in the 2-1 win over Hearts at Tynecastle on Sunday.

Left-back Kieran Tierney's shoulder knock renders him a doubt while midfielder Stefan Johansen and Leigh Griffiths will also serve a one-game ban from last season.

But O'Connell is looking to keep his place even when Rodgers has all his players back.

"Last year was a tough year for me, I had to keep going through injury twice but I have always had that belief," he said.

"I made my debut three seasons ago and I have had the belief since then that I was ready to play if called upon and I felt that when I was called upon that I did quite well.

"Sometimes it just doesn't happen like that, but I don't think you can ever lose that belief or that mentality.

"I certainly didn't lose belief and I didn't let it get me down. Yes, it was tough but I kept going through it.

"I knew there was a chance when I came back for pre-season so I worked as hard as I could and it has led to this.

"You have to have confidence and believe in yourself and the games I have played so far, I have been happy with the way it went and I will look to continue.

"The manager said he trusts me and it is good that he has that faith in me to put me in.

"But I don't think I would be here if I wasn't ready to play.

"I didn't really get that chance when the previous manager (Ronny Deila) was here but that's just football, that's the way it is and we move on from there."

On the chance to progress into the quarter-finals of the Betfred Cup, Kennedy said: "We want to attack every competition and try to win every competition.

"This is the first one that comes about in the season so we will put out as strong a team as we can and are going out to win the game."

Meanwhile, Motherwell boss Mark McGhee insists there has been no approach from Brighton for Marvin Johnson - but told the in-form forward he can still earn himself a big-money move south.

Reports on Tuesday morning suggested Chris Hughton's Seagulls were preparing a B#500,000 offer for the attacker, who has already netted four goals in five games this term.

It comes just a week after Oxford had a B#300,000 bid rejected.

Former Albion boss McGhee insists his old club have not been in touch to enquire about the Steelmen's 25-year-old star performer.

But he did hint that if Johnson continues to trouble defences like he has in the opening weeks of the campaign it will be unlikely he hangs around at Fir Park for much longer.

McGhee said: "I was at Brighton's game with Lazio last week and I spoke to their chairman and Paul Winstanley [Brighton's head of recruitment], and neither of them mentioned Marvin Johnson to me.

"So it's all speculation. I know these guys very, very well and I can assure you they would speak to me.

"Marvin has got to deal with the speculation, we've got to deal with it too. Until somebody makes an offer then [the speculation]'s not really worth the paper it's written on.

"I'm not confident [about Johnson's future] either way. He's a brilliant player and I wouldn't be surprised if somebody like Brighton fancied him. But every day that ticks by is one less I have to contend with."

Well return to Celtic Park for the first time since their 7-0 drubbing on the final day of last term.

But McGhee insists his side will put up a stiffer fight in Wednesday's round-of-16 clash than they did in their previous encounter with the Hoops.

"I'm excited and nervous," said the Fir Park boss. "The last time we went to Parkhead we got hammered. But we also know that we went there last season and won too.

"I'd imagine our performance tomorrow night will be much more reminiscent of the first game than the last game."


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