It's time to give Stephen Welsh his Celtic place back

By David Walton

September 18, 2021

He may only have lost his place in the team earlier this month, but it’s time for Stephen Welsh to be given his Celtic spot back.

You can’t help but feel a sense of injustice when it comes to Welsh. The Lennoxtown academy graduate was the one sacrificed for the arrival of Cameron Carter-Vickers. This was despite the fact he was operating at a higher level than Carl Starfelt.

Starfelt, signed for £4m in the summer by Ange Postecoglou [Glasgow Times], has struggled since his switch from Rubin Kazan. The manager has been giving him, quite rightly, plenty of time to adapt to Scottish football.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

However, the Swedish international has continued to struggle after the September international break. He was largely at fault in Thursday night’s 4-3 loss against Real Betis too with some poor positioning and tracking.

Somebody had to make way for Carter-Vickers, who’s impressed in his first two Celtic matches. But the time has already come to introduce Welsh back into the starting XI.

Postecoglou will be the first to say that it isn’t about replacing players. But you can’t disguise the fact that Welsh is on the bench whilst Starfelt is on the pitch.

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Stephen Welsh hasn’t performed poorly enough to be rooted to Celtic bench

Welsh has had a fine start to the campaign for Celtic too. He’s played on nine different occasions and has impressed both in Europe and in big domestic matches such as the Glasgow Derby at Ibrox.

Not to mention he’s just come off a major morale-booster with the Scotland U21s. Welsh was named captain of Scott Gemmill’s youngsters and helped lead them to a fine draw in Turkey during the international break.

There’s no reason to halt his development by keeping him on the bench. He’s ready to be exposed to Europa League group stage football. He’s shown over the last 12 months that he’s ready to deal with the physical and mental demands of playing for Celtic.

And we’re not saying that Starfelt’s Celtic career is anywhere but over either. Far from it. He’s in the very early stages of his time in Scotland and will get plenty of runs in the team in the future. However, for now, he needs to be taken out of the spotlight.

Constant exposure to highly-pressurising environments doesn’t seem to be doing much good. There’s been no real improvement since he signed back in July. It could be the case that he needs a few months to get used to his surroundings. That’s fine, but we can’t wait a few months to have an efficient centre-back partnership either.

Tomorrow, Celtic take the tricky-looking trip to the Tony Macaroni Arena to tackle Livingston. We need power and composure at the back. Therefore, a reintroduction into the team for Welsh looks like being the right option.

In other news, Celtic winger Jota addresses Livingston’s artificial surface

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