Sweden boss explains why he snubbed Celtic defender Carl Starfelt against Kosovo

By David Walton

October 11, 2021

Sweden manager Janne Andersson has confirmed why he snubbed Celtic centre-back Carl Starfelt against Kosovo on Saturday.

Starfelt was again called up to his national team’s squad for the games against Kosovo and Greece respectively. It’s his second consecutive call-up after missing out on Euro 2020 during his time with Rubin Kazan.

The Celtic summer-signing has struggled to make a telling impact in Glasgow since his arrival. Starfelt has been a regular under Ange Postecoglou, but hasn’t been able to rid himself of basic errors as of yet as he still gets to grips with Scottish football.

Photo by Gavriil GrigorovTASS via Getty Images

And after being left out of the matchday squad, Andersson has effectively confirmed that he doesn’t see Starfelt as a main player as he talked up positional rival Alex Milosevic, who was on the bench instead.

As quoted by Swedish outlet FotbolSkanalen, Andersson said: “What we lose a little without Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a main player that can be decisive in situations if we get pressure on us at the end of a match or have to force forward. You want players who are very good main players. Then Isaac Kiese Thelin also disappeared this week [due to injury], and he is also a very good main player.

“What made me choose Alex before Carl is his main game status. If I had chosen a player from the start based on their entrance to the squad, Starfelt would have played. But when it came to the question of having a centre-back on the bench, I felt that Milosevic is very good on his head if we were to come under pressure towards the end or had to chase a goal.

The players needed in January to complete the Celtic rebuild

The players needed in January to complete the Celtic rebuild
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“So my thoughts went there.”

Celtic man Carl Starfelt needs to earn the trust of Sweden boss

Starfelt remains a relatively new addition to the Sweden squad. He only made his debut for his country 12 months ago in a friendly against Russia. Since then, he’s only been called on three times.

You can tell that Andersson is trying to be as diplomatic as possible here. What he’s effectively saying is that Starfelt simply isn’t good enough to be considered a main player at the moment. That there are alternative names in his squad he feels he can rely on more.

That’s fine. As stated, Starfelt is at an early stage in his Sweden career even if he is 26. He’s been a late bloomer when it comes to international football, and he’s only been a part of a handful of camps so far.

Photo by Steve Welsh/Getty Images

It is a touch frustrating that Starfelt is being left out of the team for every competitive match. His only appearance for his country since his move to Celtic came in a friendly against Uzbekistan last month. But that probably says a lot about where the player is in terms of his club form.

Starfelt hasn’t been a convincing figure at Parkhead – let’s not kid ourselves. There’s talent there, but basic defensive errors have cost us badly already this season. He’s been a regular creator of it and it’s down to Starfelt himself to stamp it out of his game and show Andersson he’s a reliable option.

These will be concerning if not surprising comments for Starfelt to here. Hopefully, Starfelt can fight back and make himself a “main” player for his country in the coming months.

In other news, David Turnbull’s Scotland hopes rest solely on substantial Celtic improvement