BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
CELTIC youngster Eoghan O’Connell admits he has experienced a “strange” campaign after going from Barcelona to the Bescot.
The 21-year-old has joined English League One outfit Walsall on loan for the rest of the season, leaving Kilmarnock – who were also reportedly on his trail – disappointed.
Hoops boss Brendan Rodgers is keen for the promising stopper to get more first-team football under his belt after he slipped behind the likes of Jozo Simunovic, Erik Sviatchenko and Kolo Toure in the pecking order for central defence.
And O’Connell is desperate to get back to the form which saw him make seven appearances for the Scottish champions earlier this season, including a Champions League cameo in the 7-0 defeat at the Nou Camp in September.
He told Walsall’s official website: “It has been a bit of a strange season for me, because I started off playing in the team and that was my focus.
“I played a lot of games at the start of the season and for the gaffer [Brendan Rodgers] to put me into a game like Barcelona was big for me.
“The Barcelona match was special, even just getting on for 20 minutes. I remember sitting on the bench thinking ‘woah, just watching this is unreal’. Then, to get the call to come on was amazing and I really enjoyed the time I was on the pitch.
“Obviously it was a poor result, but I enjoyed the experience. It is a special place to play and to go up against players of that calibre will stay with me forever.
“But, with a few players coming back from injury, I’ve not being playing as much so now it is about getting out to play as quickly as possible. I’m delighted this chance has come up.
“I heard about the interest last week and it took a little longer to get the deal done than we would have hoped. I spoke to the manager [John Whitney] and he was really keen for me to come down, so after that I was really excited about the prospect. I can’t wait to get started.”
O’Connell could be given a baptism of fire this weekend when Walsall host League One leaders Sheffield United at the Bescot Stadium.