Celtic youngster helps loan side to relegation great escape

By John McGinley

May 16, 2021

Celtic youngster Leo Hjelde is celebrating today after helping his loan side Ross County beat the Scottish Premiership drop.

The Staggies have finished the season in 10th position, three points clear of Kilmarnock, to escape taking part in a play-off that could have seen them end up in the Scottish Championship next season.

Former Celtic defender John Hughes took charge of the club in December with County four points adrift of now relegated Hamilton at the bottom of the table.

Bringing in players like Hjelde and a new winning mentality to the club, Hughes has worked wonders and can now look forward to improvement in the top-flight next term.

Hjelde has played a key role in their turnaround, making 12 appearances at centre-half and left-back since joining from Celtic in January. Hughes put his faith in the youngster despite his age, 17, and lack of senior experience.

An exciting seven days for Celtic fans is about to get underway

The Norwegian youth international missed out on today’s 2-1 win over Motherwell through injury, but would have ordinarily taken part having started their last two league victories.

Hughes has been effusive with his praise for the teenager in the past, even comparing him to world-class Liverpool star and former Celtic hero Virgil van Dijk.

The manager told club media in March he won’t be far away from the Celtic first-team when he returns this summer.

Celtic youngster Leo Hjelde / (Photo by Rob Casey/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Hjelde is one of a number of emerging players, along with Adam Montgomery, Karamoko Dembele and Dane Murray, who will have the chance to impress Celtic’s incoming manager this summer.

Hopefully the experience and pressure of a relegation fight have helped Hjelde’s development greatly.

In other news, John Kennedy is insistent Celtic can close 25-point gap next season.