Celtic 3-1 St Johnstone: No change on O'Halloran - Wright

By Richard WilsonBBC Scotland at Celtic Park
Tommy Wright (left) and Michael O'Halloran
Tommy Wright (left) has had to deal with interest from Rangers for Michael O'Halloran (right)

Tommy Wright asserted that Michael O'Halloran will still be a St Johnstone player "in the morning", with Rangers "seriously interested".

No agreement has been reached and, as things stand, Wright is planning to play O'Halloran in next weekend's League Cup semi-final with Hibernian.

O'Halloran set up a goal as Saints lost 3-1 to Premiership leaders Celtic, who went six points clear at the top.

"The latest is that there has been no change," said Wright.

O'Halloran started on the right flank before moving up front in the second half. He did not play last week, after news of Rangers' interest broke, because Wright felt he was not in the right frame of mind.

There was enough about his game to create an equaliser at Celtic Park, though, for Steven MacLean.

"Michael's our player and we can't stop clubs asking a question about him," Wright told BBC Scotland. "He played because all week he's been excellent in training.

"When it emerged and really hit the press last week, it did have an effect on him. But he's in a good frame of mind.

"The chairman came down on the bus today and unless something's happened, Michael's still our player, so that's the only update I can give.

"I'm confident that he'll be our player in the morning. He's contracted to us for another 18 months.

"We do know that Rangers are seriously interested. There's a valuation and if that's met then he'll no longer be our player. I'll be preparing, come Monday, for him to be in the team for next week."

Wright was happy with O'Halloran's performance, and aspects of the team's display as a whole, despite the defeat.

"We put a lot into game," he said. "First goal, they get a little break with the deflection. But we should see it out to half-time when we get the equaliser.

"We conceded the second goal at a bad time. At the start of the second half we looked okay, we put Michael up top, but the third goal kills us.

"I thought it was a foul on Brian Easton, [Gary] Mackay-Steven's foot was high and I was disappointed the ref didn't give it.

"You need those situations to go for you, then to compound it [Craig] Gordon makes a great save from Liam Craig moments later.

"I'm pleased with how we played, but there are still things we could do better; retention of the ball. But you have to work so hard here to get the ball [that] at times you don't keep is as much as you would like.

"The attitude, organisation and desire was good, I just thought at times we won the ball back then gave it away too cheaply."

Gary Mackay-Steven (left) and Stuart Armstrong
Mackay-Steven (left) scored twice while Stuart Armstrong (right) also scored

Celtic manager Ronny Deila was pleased with the way his side "controlled" the game and the number of chances they created.

Mackay-Steven scored twice, Stuart Armstrong also found the net and Deila believes his team will be hard to catch if they maintain the same level of performance.

"We play much more forward now and we're hard to beat because we have a lot of quick players in the team," the Celtic manager said.

"[Mackay-Steven] was very good. Stuart and him were very good, the full-backs were vey good coming forward, so there was a lot to build on there.

"We're going to be very hard to beat when we are playing so direct and with pressure, everybody working so hard and then we win the ball in good situations."

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