Cork City boss hails on-loan Celtic starlet Eoghan O'Connell

The defender could be in line to make his competitive debut for the Leesiders against Dundalk in the President's Cup

Cork City manager John Caulfield has hailed Eoghan O'Connell as a "serious player" and expects the on-loan Celtic defender to have a big impact during his time in the SSE Airtricity League.

O'Connell joined Cork on a temporary deal from the Scottish Premiership champions ahead of the 2016 season and the 20-year-old made an immediate impression by scoring on his debut - a 4-0 pre-season victory against Cobh Ramblers - and could be in line to make his competitive debut against Dundalk in the President's Cup on Saturday.

Caulfield, who managed O'Connell's father during his time at the helm of Munster Senior League club Avondale United, said that he signed the Republic of Ireland Under-21 international to provide added sturdiness to the defence and is pleased to have secured the player's  services until July.

"The big thing about it is that he has a year-and-a-half to go at Celtic, they want to extend his contract and he's already played first-team games for them," Caulfield said ahead of the clash at Turner's Cross.

"He's a Cork lad, plus the fact that he's bursting to play for us is fantastic. From that point of view, he's a serious player."

Caulfield explained that the addition of O'Connell injects extra competition into his squad, particularly considering that he can slot in anywhere along the back four as well as in midfield.

The City boss added: "Coming into our training sessions last week, he gave a lift to our guys, who see another quality player. In terms of competition for places, it gives us lots of options.

"The more competition we have, the more guys pushing each other, the better we'll be and that's the intention. So we'd expect Eoghan to have a big impact."

Caulfield remarked that Cork City's status as a club set to compete in the Europa League was an important aspect in securing the loan deal, with Celtic content that the young defender will be playing at a competitive level in Ireland's top division.

"I suppose the fact that we were able to persuade Celtic to loan him to us shows where we're at. We now play in Europe, which was a big factor for them," said the former UCC boss.

"[They could see] that we are a club that's at the top of our league, challenging at the top and the fact that we're in Europe helps.

"Touch wood he stays injury free, because certainly people will see that he's a really good player."

Cork City host Dundalk in the 2016 President's Cup on Saturday, February 27. Kick-off 14:00.