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