Celtic defensive shortages for UCL qualifier is a real letdown for supporters

By David Walton

July 19, 2021

Celtic have a huge UCL qualifier tomorrow night against Midtjylland, so it stands to reason that you would expect us to be strong in all areas of the pitch.

The Hoops went into the summer knowing a major rebuild was needed. As soon as the new manager was appointed, there were three main pieces of squad surgery that needed performing.

A new right-winger was essential to compete with and cover for James Forrest. One new centre-back to cover the departure of the disappointing Shane Duffy. And, perhaps most urgently, a new right-back to stop us from having to play Anthony Ralston in Europe.

It hasn’t been easy for new CEO Dom McKay and manager Ange Postecoglou. There’s been so much they’ve had to juggle in recent weeks.

However, not adding in the key priority positions before Midtjylland is extremely disappointing. It was one of the main issues we had to resolve and one that everyone knew back at the end of last season.

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It’s not suddenly dawned on anyone that we need a new right-back or centre-back. We’ve known this would be the case for months.

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It’s also a further blow to Celtic that Kris Ajer likely won’t feature ahead of a potential move to Brentford either. That reduces our options at centre-back even further from what we ended the season with.

Celtic aren’t adequately prepared for tomorrow’s UCL qualifier

Celtic go into tomorrow night looking like playing with Ralston at right-back. Not to mention a partnership of Stephen Welsh and Nir Bitton at the heart of the defence. That simply shouldn’t be the case, regardless of what else was on the agenda this summer.

Yes, some will point out that Osaze Urhoghide was signed from Sheffield Wednesday. He can play either at right-back or centre-back. But he doesn’t have the experience or sharpness to be featuring tomorrow night. We’ve learned that much from pre-season.

It’s not to say McKay and Postecoglou haven’t been trying desperately either. We’ve been attempting to get Carl Starfelt over the line for the last couple of weeks. Our right-back search has also been extensive with the likes of Brandon Soppy, George Baldock, and Sacha Boey all linked.

Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

But all that matters is that these deals haven’t gotten over the line. Instead, we’re left with massive defensive gaps which, whilst they look certain to be fixed eventually, just haven’t been done quickly enough for Europe.

What we need is for Ange to pull something out of the hat against the Danes. Something that buys the club a bit more time to get bodies in the door.

I’m not going to hammer McKay for a failure to get these deals over the line. The signings of Urhoghide, Bosun Lawal, and Kyogo Furuhashi shows the club has been hard at work.

But the truth is a new central defender and right-back were two of our biggest priorities before the UCL qualifiers. That we’ve failed to bag either can’t be described as anything other than a big disappointment.

In other news: SCOTT Sinclair thanks Celtic supporters for class Parkhead ovation