O’Hal­lo­ran backed for in­ter­na­tional call-up soon by team-mate Craig

The Herald - Sport - - FOOTBALL -

IT is per­haps Michael O’Hal­lo­ran’s mis­for­tune that the Scot­tish na­tional team cur­rently have no fix­tures sched­uled un­til their open­ing World Cup quali­fy­ing match next Septem­ber.

Tommy Wright, his man­ager at St John­stone, de­scribed O’Hal­lo­ran the other night as the best Scot­tish player op­er­at­ing out of the SPFL Premier­ship right now af­ter the for­ward scored one and cre­ated an­other in the 3-1 League Cup quar­ter-fi­nal win over Mor­ton.

Whether that leads to an in­ter­na­tional call-up for the 24-year-old re­mains to be seen, al­though if he can main­tain this form ahead of a po­ten­tial friendly en­counter early in 2016, then there is ev­ery chance Gor­don Stra­chan may de­cide to take a closer look at him.

“The man­ager gives him the free­dom to go and ex­press him­self, and as long as he’s play­ing well for St John­stone, cre­at­ing chances and scor­ing goals, why not give him an op­por­tu­nity [for Scot­land]?” asked Liam Craig, O’Hal­lo­ran’s St John­stone team-mate.

“When you have play­ers like Mikey in the team he gets on the ball and ex­cites peo­ple. You saw the other night when we got the ball to him, de­fend­ers started to dou­ble up on him to make it dif­fi­cult. He kept want­ing it, though, and kept get­ting into good ar­eas and putting good balls in.

“If he gets a call-up to the Scot­land squad it will be great for him and the club. The man­ager has said we want to keep him and hope­fully he does stay be­cause the club wants to go and win tro­phies and com­pete.

“If we are go­ing to do that we need to keep our best play­ers at the club.”

O’Hal­lo­ran, a former Celtic youth player, be­gan his se­nior ca­reer at Bolton Wan­der­ers but failed to make the break­through, be­ing shunted out on three sep­a­rate loan spells.

It has taken a re­turn back home to Scot­land for him to find his feet and Craig can see par­al­lels with his former Hiber­nian team­mate, Scott Al­lan.

“Mikey prob­a­bly went down there when he was quite young,” he added.

“I played with Scotty Al­lan at Hibs as well who did some­thing sim­i­lar.

“But when you get a man­ager who be­lieves in you and is go­ing to give you chances and time to make mis­takes – like Alan Stubbs did with Scotty and like the man­ager does here with Michael – that can only help.”

ON FORM: O’Hal­lo­ran had a goal and an as­sist to his name in Tues­day’s 3-1 win

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