The big news in today’s Celtic team is Neil Lennon’s selection of Stephen Welsh against Hamilton in the Scottish Premiership, as per CelticFC.net.

The 20-year-old takes his place in the defence, apparently alongside Christopher Jullien and Kristoffer Ajer, in a match that is crucial to our title bid.

Victory today would see us move seven points clear at the top of the table.

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Debuts for youngsters are always nice to see but given what’s at stake, there could be some concern about relying on an untested youngster.

However, comments from his former loan manager David Hopkin suggest that Celtic know exactly what they are doing with the academy graduate after a spell at second-tier side Greenock Morton.

After being recalled to Celtic last month, Hopkin told Morton’s official website: “Celtic have decided to recall Stephen early from his loan with us. The management team watched him recently and were very impressed with how he had developed as a player.

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“He will go immediately into the first team set-up there and I am pleased that we were able to work with him and thankful to Celtic for giving us the opportunity.

“They have a few injuries at the moment therefore it’s the perfect chance for Stephen to be able to show what he can do and make an impression.

 

“His desire and determination have been excellent, and we have given him the experience of first-team football in a very competitive league.”

Huge day for Welsh

Not only did he make a positive impression with the Scottish Championship side, but he has clearly also impressed Celtic’s coaches too and as a result he’s been given his big shot in the first-team.

That suggests to me we shouldn’t have much concern about his ability to compete today. This isn’t a random, panicky selection just because Jozo Simunovic is out again.

Celtic youngster Stephen Welsh

Celtic youngster Stephen Welsh / (Photo by Lukasz Sobala/PressFocus/MB Media/Getty Images)

Lennon isn’t in the business of handing out debuts to youngsters if he feels they aren’t ready.

Jeremie Frimpong came into the team this season but only because it had been discovered he had the ability to really make an impact.

Welsh played mostly as a right-back for Morton during his loan spell this season but much of his development has been at centre-half (Transfermarkt).

That both Leigh Griffiths and Odsonne Edouard start suggests he’ll be part of a three-man defence today.

I’m looking forward to seeing what he can offer.

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