NIALL McGINN and Peter Grant last night lavished praise on the mercurial Paddy McCourt, who thrilled Celtic fans with his first goal for the club in this week’s CIS Cup win at Falkirk.
Northern Ireland international McCourt has enjoyed rave reviews for his performances in the reserves since signing from Derry City last summer and in his first competitive 90 minutes in a Hoops shirt at the Falkirk stadium, he went some way to justify the hype with a fine solo goal in the 4-0 rout.
McGinn, who followed McCourt over from Derry in January, insists his fellow countryman is “a bit special”.
The Hoops’ winger said: “It was good that Paddy got 90 minutes at Falkirk and he showed the fans what he could do. Paddy is a bit special, he gets the ball deep and runs at defenders and his close control is unbelievable.
“It’s obviously good having a player like that in the team because it’s something you don’t really find too often.
“Now he has had a good pre-season under his belt and his fitness is looking better. In training, you can see his talent and against Falkirk he showed what he can do.”
Celtic coach Grant admits McCourt need to add to his work-rate off the ball but insists the Irishman will only have himself to blame if he does not make a big impact at Parkhead.
He said: “He’s a wonderful talent; there’s no doubt of that. He can carve chances for himself, he can create them for others, and he does it consistently.
“People will always question what he’s not got, but you always like to look at the positives. He can get by players and he proved that, even in the Wembley tournament against top-quality players – and that’s no disrespect to the Falkirk boys.
“There’s no doubt he’s got a tremendous ability and there’s not a lot of people like him. Hopefully, he’ll have a big part to play with the talent he has. If he doesn’t, he should be asking questions of himself.”
McGinn declared himself ready to stand in for Aiden McGeady, who picked up an ankle knock at Falkirk and could be doubtful for the Old Firm clash with Rangers on Sunday week, which comes after a Premier League game at St Mirren on Saturday and a Europa League match against Rapid Vienna next Thursday.
McGinn said: “It doesn’t look like Aiden will be playing this weekend but I think he is going to be fit for the Old Firm game. But if he is not fit for this weekend or next weekend, hopefully the manager has the faith to play me.
“If he doesn’t then hopefully I am in the squad. I am just looking forward to it, everything is going well and long may it continue.”
Meanwhile, Ireland international Darren O’Dea would prefer to extend his loan stay with Reading rather than return to Celtic to warm the bench.
The young centre-back has initially joined the Royals on loan until January but would not be against remaining at the Madejski Stadium for the remainder of the campaign.
“It’s between the two clubs really, I don’t want to go back to Celtic if I’m going to be sitting on the bench,” he said.
“I’m just delighted to be here for the time being. I’ve been at Celtic since I was about 14-years-old and that’s all I’ve ever known, but I’ve come to Reading and settled in here really well.
“I really feel part of the team here and everyone has been great. I’m just desperate to play football and I want to play as many games as possible for Reading during my time here.
“I really like Reading, it’s a nice place. I’ve been into the town centre and had a stroll around and I’m getting to know my way around now so that’s good.’’
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