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Wednesday 28 September 2016

O'Connell believes in his own ability

Eoghan O'Connell. Photo: PA
Eoghan O'Connell. Photo: PA

Celtic youngster Eoghan O'Connell has unshakeable belief in his ability to retain his place in the 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 tonight 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 but I have always had 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."

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