Postecoglou praises scrutinised Celtic pair; issues Champions League injury update

By Dave Flanigan

October 2, 2022

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou has praised the defensive partnership of Moritz Jenz and Stephen Welsh who have continued to deputise in the absence of first-choice centre-halves Cameron Carter-Vickers and Carl Starfelt.

Welsh and Jenz started together for the first time when a much-rotated Celtic ran out 4-1 winners in the Premier Sports Cup away to Ross County a month ago, and were used again as a pair with Carter-Vickers and Starfelt injured in the 2-0 defeat to St Mirren in Paisley, and in yesterday’s 2-1 win over Motherwell.

Both faced scrutiny for their involvement in St Mirren’s second goal, but the manager was quick to defend his third and fourth choice centre halves given the circumstances of their still-evolving partnership.

Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

As reported by STV News, he said: “They did okay, they did well. They didn’t have to do too much defending. They stepped out a few times which is good. It’s hard because last year Carl and Cam were mainstays, neither of them really got injured.

“I have always felt centre-back pairings are really important in terms of understanding, in terms of knowing each other’s movements, the sort of idiosyncrasies they have.

“When you put one in, it’s a lot easier to adjust. But for Welshy and Mo, who has only been with for us a couple of months, as a new defensive pairing it’s not easy.

“Especially with the way we play, because they have a lot of the ball, we are very aggressive with our defending, they have to do a lot of one-on-one defending and covering at the same time, so it’s not easy but I think every game they play they will get a better understanding of one another, which I think will help us.

“You can have as strong a squad as possible but in my experience in football every now and then you will get hit in the same area and you realise why you need four centre-halves. Even then you are thinking ‘well, have we got enough?’ But you can only have so many players.

“But they were better and I’m sure they will grow in confidence from there.”

Photo by Foto Olimpik/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Postecoglou was coy on Carter-Vickers’ potential involvement in Leipzig on Wednesday, stressing that he wasn’t keen to throw the defender back in immediately and risk losing him again, a la Carl Starfelt, who remains injured after the Glasgow Derby last month.

He said: “He is not far away but we have another 12 games in 40 days so I am not going to put him in unless he is absolutely right.

“It would be silly of us to put him in and then lose him for another few games, particularly with Carl out for at least another couple of weeks.”

Carter-Vickers returning to the squad would be a huge boost for Celtic ahead of a mammoth six weeks in their season, with their Champions League group stage campaign set to conclude in the next month.

Though Jenz and Welsh certainly have their individual strengths, it’s clear why Carter-Vickers and Starfelt are the first-choice pair, and even having just one available would be a hugely beneficial to Celtic’s hopes of qualifying for the knockout phases.

Regardless of who is in the squad, it’ll be a huge task for the Hoops in Germany on Wednesday, where even a point would put them in an enviable position to qualify from Group F.

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