CELTIC fans – and the media, in fairness – have been here before in this transfer window. But all of those sub-editors who were primed with their ‘Life of Riley’ headlines may get some use out of them after all.

The late collapse of the Riley McGree transfer to Celtic seemed to sound the closing bell on Ange Postecoglou’s transfer business for this window, with the manager hitting out at ‘lies and fabrications’ surrounding potential targets. But perhaps not.

"Unless something extraordinary comes along or something happens within the existing squad that means we need to move,” Postecoglou said.

"But as we speak right now there are no other offers or people I've spoken to so the 20 names that come out tomorrow are all lies or fabrications or people bored at home just Googling names and throwing them up there or agents trying to get a little bit more value for their clients.

"So I can't be any clearer than that. The one thing I won't do is lie.

"So there is nobody else we are talking to, there are no other offers, there's nobody else I'm interested in as we sit here today.

"If that changes I will let you know."

One week on though, it appears that situation has indeed changed, though the heads up from Postecoglou hasn’t, as yet, been forthcoming.

Nevertheless, it looks very likely that English midfielder Matt O’Riley will become Celtic’s fifth signing of the January window, with the club agreeing a £1.5m fee with MK Dons and the 21-year-old travelling to Glasgow yesterday to complete a medical.

Perhaps the absence of Tom Rogic for the forthcoming fixtures against Hearts at Tynecastle next Wednesday, Dundee United at Celtic Park the following Saturday and then the potentially pivotal visit of Rangers due to international duty has made Postecoglou’s mind up for him when it comes to the need for reinforcements.

Reo Hatate may also be missing, with the Japan squad yet to be announced for their games over the same period, and with David Turnbull still absent through injury, it follows that circumstances may now dictate Celtic’s move back into the transfer market, despite their manager’s earlier protestations.

But what are they getting for their £1.5m? O’Riley started his professional career at Fulham, where he trained with the likes of Scotland international midfielders Kevin McDonald and Tom Cairney.

Despite being offered a lucrative contract by then manager Scott Parker to stay at the club in the spring of 2020, the lack of first-team opportunities – he had made just one senior appearance at the time – led him to reject the terms on offer, confident he would soon be picked up by another club.

Then, the pandemic hit, and the then 19-year-old was left in limbo, training on his own in a public park to keep himself ticking over.

Reflecting on the uncertainty of the period, he told The Athletic last year: “I didn’t want to extend my contract for an extra month, and Scott Parker called me and said he didn’t think it was best for me to train until the end of the season, I said that was fair enough.

“So for a good three or four months, I was training by myself and in the park with my dad. It was a lot of time on a Watt bike and then a run and a ball session in the park, until Russ (Russell Martin) said I could train with MK Dons to keep fit.

“I drove up there every day and back for six months. Looking back on it, it probably was (a difficult time). I didn’t really think about it. But when I reflect on what I actually did, to leave Fulham when I had the option of just signing a contract in front of me, it was a bold decision.

“But it’s one that I feel has worked out really well, both on the pitch and for me as a person. It showed that I’m doing this for football, rather than anything else like a contract or a cheque.”

Indeed, the move to MK Dons has worked out for O’Riley, with his prioritisation of football over finance at such an early stage of his career no doubt an appealing attribute to the purist in Postecoglou.

O’Riley credits the mental resiliency he developed in that stage of his career as a key to the subsequent success he has enjoyed with the League One club, and perhaps goes some way to explain why he was subsequently handed the captaincy of the club. His game though is more about finesse than fortitude.

This is where his opinions and those of Parker also differed, with O’Riley being deployed as a deeper-lying ‘number six’ during his time at Craven Cottage. The player saw himself as having more to offer in an offensive position, and his theory has since been borne out at MK Dons, where he has scored seven goals and racked up five assists so far this season.

A ball-carrying midfielder with an eye for goal and an assist? It may well be that O’Riley is seen not only as a short-term fix to mitigate the loss of Rogic’s attacking qualities, but is in fact being brought in as a long-term replacement for the magical Australian.