Irvine heading in Wright direction
Victorian Champions League graduate Jackson Irvine makes first-team debut for Celtic.
Victorians Bailey Wright and Jackson Irvine continue to make giant strides in their professional playing careers in Britain.
Wright is cementing his place in the Preston North End starting line-up while Irvine made his Celtic debut by coming on at half-time in the Hoops’ 2-2 home draw with Hibs on Saturday.
Irvine is making giant strides which started with his substitute appearance in a glamour pre-season friendly at Celtic Park against Inter Milan, a game in which he marked Dutch maestro Wesley Sneijder.
Leeds and Motherwell reportedly showed interest in the former Frankston Pines star during the pre-season with Leeds scouting him when Celtic’s development squad went to Ireland.
But Irvine was called into the matchday squad for the third game of the current SPL campaign albeit that he remained on the bench throughout Celtic’s 4-2 away win against Inverness Caley.
His chance came on Saturday when Victor Wanyama, who had been carrying a thigh injury for the past few weeks, was unable to continue at the break.
Irvine came on in a holding role in midfield but got forward a few times and even forced Hibs keeper Ben Williams into a save with a shot following a Paddy McCourt corner.
Young Socceroos coach Paul Okon is keen to have Irvine involved in the upcoming Asian Under-19 finals and has kept a close watch on the youngster who can play in midfield or in defence.
Wright has had a roller coaster ride these past few months after playing 11 games straight for the Deepdale outfit at the end of last League One season.
He was shocked to be called in by manager Graham Westley and transfer listed at season’s end.
Westley was in the midst of a massive overhaul of the playing squad and told Wright that he did not have enough time to continue the youngster’s development.
A number of clubs showed interest in the former Joeys defender including West Bromwich Albion and Accrington Stanley but it was newly promoted league rival Crawley Town that made a solid bid for the 20-year-old offering him a two-year deal that would have tripled his wages.
It is believed that Crawley Town also was prepared to pay a £50,000 transfer fee for Wright.
But Wright’s fortunes changed dramatically when Westley called him in and told him he was no longer transfer listed and was back in the first team squad.
However, Wright was knocked unconscious during a training mishap and was unavailable for the first two league games, a 0-0 draw with Colchester and a 1-0 loss to Shrewsbury.
He returned to the starting line-up for a 1-1 draw away to Bournemouth in which he was man of the match, played a full game in Preston’s 4-1 League Cup win over Championship outfit Crystal Palace last week and turned in another excellent display in Saturday’s 4-1 hammering of previously unbeaten Swindon Town.
In just a handful of games Wright has become a pivotal part of Westley’s side and has played at right back, left back and in central defence depending on which opposition player Westley pinpoints as being the main danger.