Wednesday, March 18, 2009

O'Dea contemplating Celtic future

Celtic and Ireland defender Darren O'Dea admits he may leave Celtic if he cannot maintain his first-team spot.

The 22-year-old, who scored Celtic's opener in Sunday's Co-operative Insurance Cup final win over Rangers, almost joined Burnley in January.

"I'd rather be playing somewhere else than not playing at all," he told BBC Radio Scotland.

"But in an ideal world I'd be at Celtic playing week in, week out and playing in the Champions League every year."

Normally a central defender, O'Dea has featured at left-back in recent matches and his performances have earned him a call-up to the Republic of Ireland squad.

"At the moment, I've managed to put a few games together and hopefully I can stay in the team," he added.

"If I was to play with Celtic week in, week out, I don't see any other club where I'd rather be.

"I've got the shirt and I'm lucky enough to have it so I'll be doing everything in my power to keep it and I'm not thinking about anything else but playing at the moment."

O'Dea insists his desire to pursue a proposed loan move to Turf Moor was purely motivated by the need to be playing regularly.

"At the time I was probably the most desperate man in the planet to get out of the club to be honest and it was literally just a footballing thing," said O'Dea. "I needed to play. Of course, I want to play international football, it's a massive thing but my club football needs to be right"

"But if I ever had a thought that I'd be playing games now with Celtic, there is nowhere else I'd rather be so as luck was, I stayed and I'm delighted I did now."

The signing of Glenn Loovens last summer further restricted O'Dea's first-team chances with captain Stephen McManus usually partnered in central defence by Gary Caldwell.

"I don't think you'll ever play for Celtic or a big team just because there's no-one else there," added O'Dea.

"There's always going to be top players ahead of you and behind you so it's a case of just me being good enough, rather than hoping someone else isn't good enough.

"You always have to expect players to be coming in and out at a club like Celtic."

Ireland take on Bulgaria in a World Cup qualifier at the end of March and Under-21 international O'Dea is eager to further establish himself at club level in order to work his way into Giovanni Trapattoni's side.

He said: "Of course, I want to play international football, it's a massive thing but my club football needs to be right.

"Just now, it's a lot better than it was a few weeks ago but I'm not taking anything for granted. I need to keep playing well and the international football will take care of itself.

"Our manager just now is a top manager so I can only learn from him."

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