Spotlight: Richie Towell
Looking at the Glasgow Celtic bench for the last few matches, you’d be forgiven for asking “Who is Richie Towell?”. He’s Celtic’s fourth choice right-back, and has been capped for Ireland from under-15 to under-21 level.
Starting off as a central midfielder, the Dundalk youngster changed position to defence for Celtic’s Academy side last season. He’s a great crosser of the ball, and a good set-piece taker, having scored many goals from free kicks for the Young Bhoys. He can also play on the right of midfield, and has featured at left back.
Towell signed for the Scottish club from Crumlin United, where he played alongside Gavin Gunning, Aaron Dorans, and Connor Clifford. He turned down moves to Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle United to play for his boyhood club. While at Crumlin, he made his first underage appearance for the Republic of Ireland, and has played at under-15, under-16, under-18, under-19, and just last month, he made the step up to under-21 level.
Celtic boss Neil Lennon has been impressed by the youngster’s ambition and his workrate. “Richie has improved a lot over the year. I had him in the development team last season and I’ve seen a gradual progression,” Lennon said. “He played really well for the 19s when they won the league and cup double and whenever we took him to England for development games he was a stand-out.
“Richie’s energy and drive are very good and he’s got better and better. His composure on the ball has improved as well and I think it manifested itself against Blackburn [in a pre-season friendly], I thought he was excellent. His desire and energy helps him get the ball back and move it on quickly and simply. Richie’s confidence was great to watch. He was saying ‘Look I’m here and I don’t feel out of place’. That sort of attitude really pleased me.”
Towell himself is also pleased with his progress at club and international level. “I’ve been on the bench in most of the matches this season, including the Europa League game, and I also played a pre-season friendly against Blackburn Rovers,” he said. “It’s going well for me. I just have to keep impressing Neil Lennon and hopefully he likes what he sees. Coming away with the Under-21s is another stepping stone and it shows that I can play at this level. I’m at Celtic four years so I think it’s time I started to make my breakthrough.
“I want to stay at the club and fight for my position. I’m training with the first team every day and that can only be good for me. Although I’d like to play in the first team, I am still getting reserves matches every week. I’m in the first team squad now so it’s just a matter of trying to push on and get into the team.”