"Trust the process"; John Kennedy on Celtic's development pathway after Welsh impact

By David Walton

April 15, 2021

Celtic interim manager John Kennedy has opened up on Stephen Welsh committing his future to the club, claiming that it’s a “great benefit” for the football club.

Welsh has been an everpresent for Celtic in 2021. He broke into the team initially under former manager Neil Lennon. To his credit, Lennon showed great faith in the academy product. And that’s been carried on by Kennedy, who’s started Welsh in all five of his games in charge.

It’s been a real breakthrough season for the youngster, and he’s committed himself to Parkhead for another four years. In that period he’ll be hoping to cement himself as one of the club’s main centre-backs and really kick on with his development.

Kennedy has been reacting to the contract extension in an exclusive interview with the club’s in-house media team. Unsurprisingly, he couldn’t help but talk up everything about the youngster:

“He deserves it”

“I have known him a long time. I have seen him being a young player at the academy and progress through. He has a terrific attitude, a real will to learn and work and it is no surprise he has gone in and done well.

“He has made himself a very important player for us which is a big benefit to us and he wants to commit his future to the club, which is good news for all. Again, you need a break at times and he has had a couple of opportunities but he has merited it. He deserves it.

“Everybody’s path is different as a young player. They are all so eager to do well and get in as quickly as they possibly can, but you also have to trust the process and sometimes it comes sooner, depending on your development, other times you have to be patient. Stephen is certainly one of those who have had to be patient but when the opportunity has come he has certainly taken it with both hands.”

John Kennedy right to be delighted; sky is the limit for Stephen Welsh

Some may think that saying he could be anything he wants to be would be getting carried away. After all, he’s only played a handful of games for the club.

However, at 21, he has an incredible amount of composure for a player only making his first steps in senior football. There’s an argument to say that regular football should’ve come in Welsh’s career before now. But he’s managed to bide his time in Glasgow, and now he’s reaping the rewards of doing just that.

There remains a major question mark over whether he’ll be one of the first-choice centre-backs next season of course. The new manager may have his eyes fixated on strengthening in Welsh’s position more than anywhere else. Shane Duffy will head back to Brighton whilst Kris Ajer will likely go too given he’s into the final year of his contract. Chris Jullien is also out injured until well into the new campaign.

Stephen Welsh has shown what’s possible this season / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Unless the new boss signs four centre-backs, there’s a good chance Welsh will still be well in the frame. But that’s what makes these next few weeks all the more important for him individually.

If he can shine in the Scottish Cup at Ibrox, and then do so again in the league, it’ll be a massive feather in his cap. It will prove that him bossing it against Alfredo Morelos and Kemar Roofe at Celtic Park was no fluke. Welsh could do with that kind of evidence to his name. It will help him massively ahead of the summer rebuild.

But there’s no denying his contract extension represents good business. Hopefully he can maximise the clear potential he’s shown in 2021.

In other news, an SPFL manager has cleared up the contract situation surrounding a player reportedly desperate to play for Celtic.