Stephen Welsh has expressed his confidence ahead of Celtic’s Ibrox clash on Sunday as he reflected on our form in recent weeks.
Under John Kennedy, the Hoops have gradually started to improve since the Neil Lennon tenure. Confident back-to-back displays against Falkirk and Livingston followed draws against Dundee United and Rangers. Kennedy’s first game in charge, meanwhile, was a 1-0 win at home to Aberdeen.
Celtic have looked mich more defensively resilient too. We’ve only conceded one goal in those five matches, with Welsh playing a huge role in that run. He’s been partnered alongside Kris Ajer for much of 2021, and yesterday signed a new four-year contract that ties him to Parkhead until 2025.
He’s been talking up the form of recent weeks under Kennedy, with his confidence on full show ahead of Sunday’s crucial clash. Speaking to Celtic’s official media channels, Welsh said the following:
“Unplayable at times”
“Under John, everyone knows what their job is. The style of play, I think you saw it at the weekend, we were unplayable at times. It could have been anything, we could have had eight or nine goals, but I think a result like the weekend was coming.
“We’ve played well in the last few weeks, but the goals just haven’t been there. The performance and the chances we were created against Livingston were very good and hopefully we can take that into the weekend now.
“Between now and the end of the season we’ve got the Scottish Cup to play and a massive game at the weekend, so we’ll be looking at that first. We want to go and win all of our games against the other top five teams in the league, and if we can put a decent run of games in between now and the end of the season that’ll be good going into pre-season.”
Stephen Welsh set for his acid test at Ibrox; Celtic fans will have enormous faith in him
This is one subplot to the game on Sunday that will likely be overlooked, but this represents Welsh’s acid test as a Celtic player.
A Scottish Cup clash at Ibrox with everything on the line. Defeat simply isn’t an option whilst Welsh’s job will be primarily to keep out what has been a free-scoring Rangers team this season. Given it’s away, an added layer of difficulty is piled on compared to the 1-1 game at Parkhead last month.
However, Welsh did prove in that one that he can handle the likes of Alfredo Morelos and Kemar Roofe. In open play, the Rangers strikeforce could barely get a sniff. They got absolutely no joy against Welsh and Ajer, with the Scotland youth international showing up extremely well.
But the fact is Welsh is now at a stage where this will be expected of him. If he’s going to start at Ibrox, he can’t be protected from the spotlight that will shine on him. He needs to perform just as highly as Ajer will need to alongside him.
Should Welsh start, and there are no signs to suggest he won’t, he has a colossal 90 minutes ahead of him. 90 minutes that really would prove to the Celtic supporters that this is one for both the present and the future.
Hopefully, he comes through it with flying colours.