Celtic boss addresses Christopher Jullien return and what he has to do to start games

By David Walton

January 25, 2022

Celtic centre-back Christopher Jullien now faces a waiting game to get his opportunity to return to the starting XI.

Jullien returned to the Hoops first-team squad for the first time in over a year during Saturday’s 2-1 win over Alloa Athletic at the Indodrill Stadium. However, despite gearing up for his return over the course of the winter break, he wasn’t given any action in the Scottish Cup tie.

Instead, Ange stuck by Carl Starfelt and Stephen Welsh with Cameron Carter-Vickers given a rest. It’s therefore a logical question as to whether the Frenchman was truly fit to play.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

But Postecoglou has today provided some clarity on his situation as he revealed the former Toulouse centre-back is fit and available as it’s now all about patience.

Speaking via Celtic TV, Ange said: “He’s fit and he’s available. Now it’s just a matter of opportunity and that’ll come when it’s there for him. It’s like I said with the other players, you get an opportunity for different reasons. Sometimes it’s because of injuries or because you want to alter things.

“The key thing for Chris is that he’s training. He’s training well, he’s fit and available and now it’s just a matter of him biding his time to get his opportunity and when he gets it, to perform well. He hasn’t contributed so far so it’s great that it’s another player we can call upon.

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“We’ve had significant injuries in the midfield and front third areas, but we’ve been pretty solid defensively all year in terms of the players we’ve been able to call upon. But having him there with his experience and his qualities, it’s certainly going to help us.”

Celtic finally half strenght in depth at centre-back with Christopher Jullien return

Having Jullien back available is of course brilliant to see given the injury hell he’s had to go through over the course of 2021. However, it’s also vital for us given the lack of depth we truly have without him.

Outside of Carter-Vickers and Starfelt, only Welsh is available as a natural replacement. Celtic of course have Nir Bitton who can operate at the heart of the backline, but he’s proven difficult to rely upon.

Jullien’s return finally gives Celtic 4 experienced and senior centre-backs to choose from. It’s a major boost for Postecoglou and one we’ll certainly need ahead of a hectic second half of the campaign.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

In terms of when that opportunity will come for Chris, it remains to be seen. Many may have raised an eyebrow over him not being included ahead of Welsh. However, given how long he’s been out for, you can see why he was shielded from Alloa’s physical approach.

We have vital Premiership, Scottish Cup, and Europa Conference League matches ahead of us in 2021. There’s going to be plenty of opportunity for everyone to stake their claim. You still feel Chris has a big role to play in the title run-in.

Hopefully, we see him back out on the pitch as soon as possible. Whether that will be at Tynecastle tomorrow night, of course, is debatable.

In other news, Matt O’Riley explains his class first encounter with Celtic fans in Glasgow