Inside Celtic link to Admira Wacker as pioneer Matthew Anderson assesses sink or swim Austria loan

-Credit: (Image: Daily Record)
-Credit: (Image: Daily Record)

Celtic talent Matthew Anderson believes he grew as a player and as a man after being thrown in at the deep end for a season on loan to Austria.

Now he’s waiting to see whether Brendan Rodgers decides to give him a chance with the Hoops this term. The left back is with Scotland Under 21s who face Turkey in a friendly tonight in Istanbul before playing in Austria on Friday. Anderson, 20, is highly-rated at Celtic and was sent to Admira Wacker at the start of the season, along with keeper Tobi Oluwayemi as the first players to go to the Austrian second-tier club after their link-up with the Scottish champions.

But Oluwayemi was injured early on and Anderson had to fend for himself in a foreign country and in a league he knew nothing about. He’s returned to Celtic though after playing in every game for the club and netted his first goal the other week too.

New Celtic pathway manager Darren O’Dea stated last month: “I am delighted for Matty. Had a brilliant loan spell. To play week in and week out while adapting to a new country, the experience he has gained will be invaluable.” And Anderson admits he’s delighted with the experience. He said: “I’ve really enjoyed it.

“Me and Tobi were the first ones to go over there for the partnership with Celtic and I think it went really well for my first full season in football. The standard was surprisingly impressive I thought.

"A lot of the players told me they had spent time playing in the Austrian Bundesliga and it wasn’t much of a drop-off. I thought it was a perfect level for me to go into for my first season in football.

"My target was to go over there and play as many games as I could. And I think I ended up playing in every game I was available for. So it almost went perfectly.

“It was a big learning curve because Tobi did his meniscus at the start of the season so I was on my own. He had to go home for a few months.

“But I thought I coped with it much better than I was expecting. There was a winter break and that helped a lot because it split up the season.

“I learned how to cook maybe five dishes so I had them on repeat for the whole season and I had to do my own cleaning too! My girlfriend came over maybe more than once a month and my mum and dad and my brother came over a few times too.

“With that and the Scotland camps and me being back and forth it felt I was there for maybe three weeks at a time maximum. As a football player, you learn so much in your first year of first team football, especially abroad.

Max Anderson and Lennon Miller -Credit:SNS Group
Max Anderson and Lennon Miller -Credit:SNS Group

“It’s almost a perfect fit because the standard of football was a really challenging level. But I was able to cope and hold my own.”

Anderson will spend pre-season with Celtic and will wait to see whether the club reckon he’s ready to push for a first team place or whether they will send him on loan again. And Anderson is happy to learn from fellow left backs - Celtic and Scotland ace Greg Taylor and Under 21s captain Josh Doig, who has missed this camp through injury.

He said: “The plan for me is to go back and report for pre-season with Celtic. Maybe the manager will have a look at me and let me know if he feels whether I should have another loan or not.

“I’m not looking too far ahead. I’ll just go with the flow. I have been with the Under 21s squads for a year now but with Josh Doig being here I have not played too many games.

“But the opportunity to learn from someone who has played in Serie A for a couple of years has been great for me. He’s a top player.

“I have been with Celtic for the past few pre-seasons and I trained with them when I came back from my winter break. Watching someone like Greg Taylor closely in training has been good for me. I try and pick up the habits that he has. He’s one of the players who are so consistent and works hard.”