Celtic boss backs Stephen Welsh after second consecutive solid display

By Euan Davidson

February 6, 2021

Celtic defender Stephen Welsh has won plenty of plaudits this season.

Despite his baptism of fire against Rangers, then following up with a start against A.C. Milan, Welsh has played with confidence. He’s assured on the ball, combative in the air, and doesn’t need theatrics in the tackle.

Today, he was unquestionably Celtic’s Man of the Match. Welsh contributed with Celtic’s first goal, while winning three aerial duels, and completing one tackle [WhoScored?]. The latter start might not sound like much, but ideally you don’t want your centre-backs having to make loads of challenges. Small tackling numbers are a product of organisation.

The plaudit he’ll value most came from Celtic manager Neil Lennon. Selecting him for the second game in a row, Celtic’s second consecutive win, Lennon was a happy man.

Speaking to Celtic TV, the Bhoys’ boss said:

“He was strong. Very calm. That’s two very good performances he’s put in. Welsh, he’s been on the periphery of the squad for two, three years.

“A great professional, he’s taken his chance very well. So he deserves the plaudits today.”

Stephen Welsh against Lille in the Europa League for Celtic / (Photo by Rob Casey/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Celtic defender Stephen Welsh continues to impress

Celtic youngster Stephen Welsh has timed his emergence well. Not only is he helping out a shaky Bhoys defence, he’s also staking a claim for the national team. Scotland are lacking depth at centre-back.

Scott McKenna has impressed at Nottingham Forest, but beyond him, Grant Hanley and Declan Gallagher aren’t international level players.

Already boasting Europa League experience, Steve Clarke will be watching Welsh’s performances with a great deal of interest.

If he’s able to keep Celtic tidy at the back, alongside Kristoffer Ajer, it puts a little pressure off both his club and international side. For the Bhoys, it’s likely Ajer will leave. But if Welsh and Jullien can work as a centre-back pairing, the rebuild isn’t quite so desperate.

At international level, as discussed, he can provide assured defending for a Scotland team playing in their first major tournament since 1998.

With the backing of his club manager, and supporters clamouring for a continued run in the team, Welsh has been a bright spark in a difficult season. If we get a solid Celtic and Scotland centre-back out of the 20-21 campaign, then at least we’ve gained something.

OPINION: this is the only thing stopping Celtic this season.