To the eye of any Celtic supporter, Stephen Welsh has been impressive.
Yes, there’s still naïveté to his game at times. He can lose his man, or position himself the wrong side of attacking players. However, these are things that experience and coaching can help. In the main, Welsh has come in and performed ably next to Kristoffer Ajer in the latter half of the season.
Now, the Academy graduate has the accolades to back up the interest. Welsh has been named in the WhoScored? Team of the Month for February on Sky Sports.
With an average rating of 7.23, Welsh joins Greg Taylor, loanee Jonjoe Kenny, David Turnbull, Scott Brown and Odsonne Edouard. All this, from a month in which our manager resigned due to poor results. The world of analytics is a very strange one indeed.
Is it a perfect measure of quality? Perhaps not. The much-maligned Shane Duffy made the Team of the Month for January, much to the surprise of nearly every Celtic supporter. It’s definitely an example of eye vs. stats, and eye perhaps prevailing in terms of judgement.
However, stats have their place, and it’s hard to argue Welsh isn’t deserving of some praise for his recent performances.
Celtic youngster Stephen Welsh: a player on the up
While it’d be churlish to suggest that we’re right about everything, we’ve been singing Welsh’s praises for a long time now. When he was given starts against Rangers and AC Milan, the academy graduate was tidy and unlucky to be on losing sides. With decent passing range and a vocal leadership style, he suits playing next to Kristoffer Ajer at the back for Celtic
Ajer, however, is likely to leave in the summer. Welsh still has a lot to prove before he’s a bona-fide guaranteed Celtic starter in the long-term.
As Sky Sports/WhoScored? point out though, he’s added dimensions to his game that will give him longevity:
“The 21-year-old scored a decisive first league goal of his Celtic career in February, that coming in the 2-1 win over Motherwell, while 432 accurate passes was the third-most in the league last month to feature.”
That aerial prowess and high-quality passing ability will keep him in good stead as he looks to develop his game. Welsh can occasionally be made to look vulnerable by pacy attackers, and he needs to work on a good starting position when the opposition are in possession.
Still, there’s a lot of hope surrounding Stephen Welsh. Now, no matter how minor, he has an accolade to his name. The Celtic youngster is on an upward trajectory.
Few would bet against a bright future.