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  • Oko-Flex: Young players must work and perform at senior level

    Oko-Flex: Young players must work and perform at senior level

    By: Joe Donnelly in Austria on 25 Jun, 2019 16:31

  • LAST September, Celtic signed highly-rated Armstrong Oko-Flex on a three-year deal from Arsenal. The 17-year-old is now hard at work at the club’s Austrian summer training camp, hoping to impress Hoops boss Neil Lennon and his backroom staff.

    Oko-Flex featured twice on the Scottish champions' first-team bench last season – once against Kilmarnock at Rugby Park in February, and again against Hearts at Paradise in May – and now targets a senior-level debut at some stage during the forthcoming campaign.

    “The summer training camp has been great so far, and it’s been really intensive," he told the official Celtic website. "The boys coming back from internationals means we’ve got a full first-team squad, which is great for us young ones – training with the likes of James Forrest, Callum McGregor, Nir Bitton, all of those guys – and we learn from them every single day.

    “The younger boys coming up know that we need to work hard and perform at their level. We have to step up our game to match them in their intensity and play. The leaders in the team are always there to encourage that.

    “Scott Brown, for example, will always help the younger ones, he’s always talking to us on the pitch and that makes it easier for us to try our best and match that.”

    Echoing the words of club captain Brownthe heat in Austria has been warmer than expected, which has made Oko-Flex doubly keen to impress his superiors.   

    He added: “Honestly, it’s crazy how hot it is here. It’s so hot! It’s hard to breath out there sometimes. You might not consider Austria as one of the hotter countries, I didn’t before we came, but we’re out there in heat over 30 degrees and there’s no wind.

    “Even a simple passing drill becomes harder when the conditions are like that, but that only makes you raise you game higher than ever. But every training session is a chance for me to show the manager what I’ve got. It’s a chance to show that I deserve to be here and I’ve got to push on.

    “It’s great having strong, experienced characters like the gaffer and Damien Duff on the training pitch. The gaffer is really good at encouraging us, and sometimes he expects more. If you make a loose pass, he’ll be on to you right away, which is good. He doesn’t let little things slide, which is really good, especially for us younger ones who are always learning.

    "After featuring on the bench last year, I’m even more hungry for it now. There’s a lot of competition in the first-team squad, which is good, and that’s even more motivation for me to work harder and show the manager that I can play for the Celtic first-team.”

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