There were some positives on show for Celtic yesterday, but Stephen Welsh getting through 90 minutes against Aberdeen was one of the biggest.
Just a week ago, there was plenty of concern doing the rounds after the centre-back’s injury picked up against St Mirren. Jonathan Obika’s nasty challenge saw the youngster stretchered off in Paisley.
He would go on to miss Sunday’s 2-1 win at St Johnstone before returning last night. However, the big question mark over him was whether he would be able to last 90 minutes.
Perhaps surprisingly for many, he did indeed. And impressively so. Up against two talented forwards in Florian Kamberi and Fraser Hornby, Welsh dominated.
Stat experts WhoScored state that he managed a superb 78 passes on the night. As well as that, he won an overall total of six aerial duels in what was a towering showing.
Welsh shows Celtic fans he’s moved on from injury
Welsh was one of the main reasons Kamberi’s influence in the game was so limited. It was always going to be a tough test too given Aberdeen went with two up top. Yet he came through it with flying colours.
But more importantly for Neil Lennon, he did so without aggravating his foot. In the final 10 minutes or so there was no sign of the Scotland under-19 international slowing down. No sign of him struggling or needing to come off due to pain.
Any concerns that his injury picked up last week was still hanging around can now be dismissed. He looks ready to go again for Sunday’s trip to Ross County in Dingwall.
That will be a huge relief for Lennon. With Christopher Jullien still out and Shane Duffy still an unreliable figure, Welsh’s fitness couldn’t be more important just now.
It remains to be seen whether he manages to stay in the squad ahead of our Euro qualifiers in the summer. But he’s certainly making a case for being part of our first-choice centre-back partnership for next season. He certainly has the baton.
Football is always going to provide knocks for every player and Welsh is no different. However, to come back from his injury and perform so dominantly in a fixture such as Celtic vs Aberdeen? That’s a promising sign for all of us.