JACK Byrne was humiliated and publicly pilloried by Oldham Athletic before effectively being kicked out at the end of last month, but the midfielder, who has found a new home at Kilmarnock, does not bear a grudge against his former employers.

The 22-year-old Irishman was banished from the top-team squad and forced to train with the kids for allegedly breaching club rules.

Manager Frankie Bunn and owner Abdallah Lemsagam publicly criticised him for being unprofessional before his contract was terminated by mutual consent on August 31.

But Byrne, who is desperate to face Celtic today, says it was all about money after Oldham’s relegation to League Two because he was one of the best-paid players at the club.

“I can’t really say anything on the matter. The club don’t want me to. But my conscience is clear, 100 per cent,” he said. “I think most people [down there] know what went on. They got relegated, I was probably one of the higher earners and they needed me to go.

“I needed to go as well to further my career. That was all it was; there wasn’t anything else to it. But it probably could have been handled a little bit better. It is what it is; that’s football.

“They criticised me but that’s people trying to force your hand to do something you don’t maybe want to do at the time. Maybe it was to get something over the line that benefits the club more than the player. That’s all that is, I think.”

Life has been turbulent for the attacking midfielder who came through Manchester City’s academy just behind Dedryck Boyata and nearly signed for Hearts last January.

He had a good loan spell with Cambuur in Holland, but a disastrous time at Blackburn and then a short-lived move to Wigan preceded his time at Oldham, But he is hoping that a fresh start at Killie can kick-start his career.

“I probably should have stayed in Holland for an extra year,” Byrne said. “I did well there, broke into the Ireland squad and then went to Blackburn on loan. I was told I was going to play as a number 10, but when I went there they played 4-4-2 under Owen Coyle and I don’t think it suited my style of play.

“Wigan came for me in January last year but Warren Joyce was sacked a month later when I was just getting back fit and into the team. Wigan tried to do a swap deal with Hearts for Jamie Walker in January this year but it didn’t materialise and I ended up going to Oldham.

“But I’m here now, playing under a really good manager. I’m just looking to learn, looking to try and get my career back on a steady track again.”

Byrne, who is a life-long Celtic supporter, is liable to be on the bench at Rugby Park today.

“I was a fan of Henrik Larsson, big Bobo Balde and Neil Lennon of course as well,” he said. “I grew up watching them, especially the Old Firm games and it was something I always looked forward to. It will be special to play against them.”

Boss Steve Clarke, who beat Celtic and drew with them twice last season, says they are still formidable despite dropping points at Tynecastle and in Paisley.

He said: “It’s far too early to be making judgments on Celtic. They still have a lot of very, very good players.

“But we always go into a game with confidence. If we’re at our very, very best, we can get something from the game.”