IT is testament to just how well Matt O’Riley has handled the step up to playing for Celtic that he is already being linked with a move to the English Premier League, having only arrived in Glasgow in January.

Anyone who has been watching the performances of the midfielder will likely not have been overly surprised when reports emerged that former Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers was keen to bring the 21-year-old to Leicester City, and even fewer would doubt his ability to handle playing at such a level.

Anyone who has met O’Riley though will also know that despite his youth, he is unlikely to have had his head turned by the speculation, and for former Celtic midfielder Paul Lambert, that humility is a key reason why he has managed to navigate the transition to playing for such a huge club so seamlessly since his move from MK Dons.

Now, Lambert is urging O’Riley to remain grounded and continue his development under Ange Postecoglou at Celtic, where he can enjoy all the trappings of playing for a big club while also performing to an even wider stage in the Champions League.

“I think he’s surprised a lot of people with just how good he is,” Lambert said.

“He came in under the radar a wee bit, even with the supporters. He was a young kid but he took his chance.

“He’s got good awareness. He receives the ball very well, he’s got good feet and looks comfortable with both. His game knowledge is pretty decent, but he’s young and that will get even better when it comes to the defensive side of it.

“The space he can generate for himself is really good, and he makes the game look easy by doing the simple things well. That’s not always an easy thing to say to footballers, to just keep it simple, they want to do the flashy side of the game. But he does the simple side of the game really well.

“If he keeps his feet on the ground and keeps doing what he’s doing, stays humble, then they have got a really good player on their hands there.

“If he’s doing well then he’s going to attract attention, that’s normal, but he seems humble and if he understands what the club is all about and what it stands for, then he’ll be fine.

“Celtic is a huge club. Everybody knows it, they have supporters all over the world, so there’s not too many bigger clubs in world football than Celtic.

“I think it’s a unique club. The rivalry with Rangers is incredible, and the pressure that comes with playing for Celtic is phenomenal. Every Saturday, you have to win, and your life revolves around it.

“If you are humble with it and you can win things there, it will be absolutely brilliant for Matt.

“That’s the way he should view it. He shouldn’t look at it as a stepping stone to somewhere else, because I don’t think you will find too many places where the pressure is as extreme as it is as when you are playing for Celtic.

“Whether Celtic are playing in the domestic league or in Europe, the support expects you to win. “They demand it, and when you put that jersey on you have to handle that club and the size of that jersey.

“That is what it is built on, winning, and if people get that and grasp that then they will have a great time.”

All that said, Lambert is not naïve enough to dismiss the pull of the Premier League, but he thinks that O’Riley can become an even more rounded player by learning under Postecoglou before southern suitors come calling with their riches down the line, as he believes they inevitably will.

“The only thing that counts against Celtic probably is where the club plays,” he said.

“If he went to Leicester, you’re in the Premier League, and they have the biggest revenues, the biggest budgets, and all of those things come into it.

“But football wise, is it a bigger club? I would say no. The fanbase Celtic have behind them is phenomenal.

“Leicester are a good club. I was down a couple of months ago seeing Brendan and the training facilities are absolutely incredible. Brendan was really good with me and I went to the game. It was a fabulous atmosphere and all of that.

“So, it’s very difficult for people to turn that down, but Celtic is a monster of a football club.”

Might O’Riley’s dream of playing for Denmark in the World Cup later this year push him towards a move to a better league though?

“I don’t agree with that at all,” Lambert said. “If you are playing with Celtic, and especially as they are in the Champions League group stages this year as well, if you perform on that stage then I wouldn’t worry about what might happen in terms of the international side of things.

“He’s not going to get a bigger stage than playing in the Champions League, that’s for sure, that’s where everybody wants to play.

“If he performs with Celtic and then performs in the Champions League, then he will be getting watched.

“As long as he performs, he’ll be fine.”