Celtic in danger of having major defensive shortages for FC Midtjylland clash

By David Walton

June 22, 2021

As scary as it sounds, Celtic are now only four weeks away from their Champions League qualifier against FC Midtjylland.

Indeed, Ange Postecoglou will take charge of training at Lennoxtown for the first time ever this week. However, he won’t have long before he’s thrown in at the deep end against the Danish side.

As things stand, Celtic haven’t even begun their on-field rebuild. Whilst we have our future CEO in place in Dom McKay alongside new manager Postecoglou, we haven’t really gotten down to the nitty-gritty. We still have players at the club who clearly want out and have failed to sign a player as we get set to enter July next week.

The only piece of work Celtic have done in terms of their rebuilding for next season is the extension of Anthony Ralston’s contract by another year. The right-back, who has already proven he isn’t of the standard required, has been given another 12 months to his deal that will now expire in 2022.

That has Celtic fans panicking. It sets a tone for the window that the club could’ve done with avoiding. And, with only four weeks to go until that vital UCL second qualifying round first-leg at Parkhead, our backline looks absolutely terrifying.

A new dawn beckons for Celtic in Europe, as Joe Hart shows his class once again

As things stand, our strongest back four reads as the following: Greg Taylor, Stephen Welsh, Kris Ajer, Anthony Ralston. That is the defensive quartet we have available to face what will be a dangerous second qualifying round opponent. That’s not even taking into account the prospect of Ajer leaving, which is likely. Then you’re bringing Nir Bitton into the mix.

No sign of any new Celtic arrivals; FC Midtjylland need to be respected

In recent years, Celtic have been able to treat early qualifiers with a touch of complacency. When we’ve been up against the likes of Linfield, Sarajevo, and KR Reykjavik, it’s allowed us extra time to bring players in. That’s simply been down to the fact that our squad has been more than strong enough to deal with the early rounds.

We can’t have that same complacency this time around. Midtjylland have far too many threats for that to be the case. They need to be respected. The best way Celtic can show that respect is to recruit some defenders.

In truth, Taylor is probably fine at left-back. But we need a huge upgrade on Ralston, whilst it remains to be seen whether Lee O’Connor can make the step-up. You then have the centre-backs, of which we’re already two light on last season after the departure of Shane Duffy and the injury to Chris Jullien.

Celtic need an upgrade on Anthony Ralston (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

It’s extremely concerning that we’ve yet to be linked with any quality centre-backs either. Only Erik Sviathenko has been linked as a serious contender for the first-team [Scottish Sun]. Being tied with his club Midtjylland has likely KO’d that idea too.

Not to mention the fact that Celtic will have to register their squad around a week before the game. Therefore, we have aorund three weeks to bring in some crucial defensive recruits. The lack of progress in that respect, then, is definitely concerning.

A replacement for Ajer, and upgrades on Welsh and Ralston are essential. That’s three new players in the next three weeks. Don’t hold your breath.

In other news, Celtic fans will likely finally get clarity on John Kennedy’s future this week.