Sunday, November 23, 2008

Georgios Samaras: It won't be long until Cillian Sheridan is first pick

Comeback man Georgios Samaras has hailed Irish hitkid Cillian Sheridan for his superb stand-in performances leading the line for Celtic.

The fit-again striker is set to push the Co. Cavan 19-year-old back on to the bench for Tuesday's Champions League crunch in Aalborg - but reckons it's only a matter of time before Sheridan is one of the first names on the team sheet.

Hoops boss Gordon Strachan was forced to throw his rookie in at the deep end for the Champions League doubleheader against Manchester United after an injury crisis robbed him of Samaras and Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink.

But the Irish kid took on the task brilliantly and went on to clock up a run of nine games including his starring role in the recent SPL victory over Kilmarnock when he scored a double.

During that time Samaras, who hurt his knee on international duty with Greece in October, was working behind the scenes to help the Parkhead prodigy with advice and encouragement.

And the 23-year-old admitted watching Sheridan emerge from the shadows to claim a first-team jersey was no surprise to those who train with him every day.

Georgios said: "Maybe people were surprised but I'm not. We worked together in pre-season and he has talent.

"He has the ability to be a striker for many years at Celtic. He's a natural and there's lots more to come from him.

"When you see a kid with his ability you are just waiting for him to explode.

"Now he has grabbed his chance he has a big future."

It's fair to say Samaras sees a lot of himself in Sheridan having made his first-team debut for Dutch side Heerenveen when he was just 17.

Perhaps that's why the Greek star has been so keen to work with him in training. Samaras said: "I was 16 when I went to Holland and after one year I played my first game so I know exactly how Cillian is feeling.

"That's why I try to help him. It's difficult when you are so young and start to play for the first team.

"You need somebody by your side who will try to help you.

That's important.

"So I have been talking to Cillian all the time in training, telling him when to ask for the ball, how to keep the ball, everything.

"We worked together during pre-season and when you see such a talented player all you can do is try to push him to do more and more. You do that because you can see he has the ability."

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