Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers is delighted to see Matt O’Riley hit the goal trail early on this season after telling the midfielder to find the net more often.
O’Riley netted late in Celtic’s 3-1 win at Aberdeen on Sunday to make it two goals in his opening two cinch Premiership matches.
Rodgers had noted that O’Riley’s tally of four goals in 52 appearances last season was not befitting of his talent.
The Celtic boss said: “I like him a lot. I think he is a really intelligent footballer.
“He is a top professional. He prepares his body well and he prepares his life well. He wants to do well. He sets his standards high every day to be better.
“When I looked at his numbers and everything else I think I said to him you need to score more goals as he didn’t do it enough.
“He was a bit like Jamesie Forrest when I first came into the club. He didn’t score enough for the talent they had and I was looking at Matt from last season and his first goal was in February. You can’t have that talent and be waiting that long.
“It is all about arriving in the areas and finding composure to finish.
“I really like him, his build-up play is good, he takes the ball, and he needs to work on his pressing and intensity but he is a wonderful footballer and he is a good guy as well.”
O’Riley himself believes a change of mental approach has been key to his flying start in front of goal.
The Denmark Under-21 international told Celtic TV: “I think I’m just trying less hard, genuinely. There’s not as much tension in my game right now.
“I was probably trying a little bit too hard last season just because I care so much and I want to help the team.
“Now I’m just trying to relax a little bit more and just get in the right positions and it seems to be clicking a little bit.
““This season I’m probably coming on to the play a little bit more in terms of the role I’ve got right now, so I can probably see the play building up a little bit better and I can pick my moment when to arrive in the box.”
O’Riley admitted in the summer of 2022, several months after moving to Glasgow, that he was aware of interest from Rodgers’ Leicester and the links persisted for the following year.
Rodgers said: “I didn’t see a great deal of him (before he moved to Celtic). He was obviously at MK Dons and I know he was linked with moves down south as most Celtic or Rangers players are.
“I have watched every Celtic game that has been on telly and I have seen his ability.
“He is a wonderful footballer and he is ambitious and he wants to be better and improve and I am really pleased for him and that was a good run into the box and finish from him.”