Welsh needs more Celtic opportunities; showed maturity after Rangers defeat

By David Walton

December 7, 2020

When Celtic were embarrassing their supporters against Rangers, there was one man who didn’t – Stephen Welsh.

The Lennoxtown graduate went into the 2-0 defeat to Steven Gerrard’s side having only made one appearance beforehand. That was a 4-1 win over in Hamilton back in February. It looked criminal from Neil Lennon to throw him right in at the deep end, but he performed admirably on the day.

Yes we lost the game, but Welsh handled Alfredo Morelos superbly and didn’t give the Colombian a sniff. Neither of the two goals were his fault, and he equally impressed off the pitch too.

After the game, he wasn’t interested in praising his own display. He’d just performed capably in a Glasgow derby, but Welsh wasn’t interested. In fact, better yet, he actively called out the team and told them there were “no excuses” from here on in. That was after his first defeat as a Celtic player.

As quoted by the Daily Record, Welsh said: “I’m obviously gutted. The result was really disappointing. We need to win the derby games. The only goal was to win. I don’t think we played particularly well at all and unfortunately came out of the wrong side with a defeat.

“It was a big day for me but all that matters is go and win the game. I’m just gutted we didn’t do it. You do your shape and that type of thing but you don’t actually know who is playing until the manager announces the team.

“When you see your name on that teamsheet you need to be ready. There are no excuses anymore, you have to get out there and do the business. It was unfortunate we didn’t manage it.”

Maturity was shown on and off the pitch

It was absolutely superb maturity shown from the young centre-back. In fairness, he was rewarded with another start against AC Milan just days later. He struggled, but he was up against the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Brahim Diaz, and his distribution from the back as well as his aerial ability remained competent on the night.

However, for some reason, he’s just dropped back down the ranks once again. Despite the fact Hatem Elhamed, Nir Bitton, Kristoffer Ajer, and Shane Duffy have all been gifting goals like the plague – Welsh appears to have been forgotten about.

The young defender was in action for the Celtic Colts against Rangers yesterday in the City of Glasgow Cup. Unsurprisingly, he was part of a backline that stood firm against a talented Ibrox academy and kept a clean sheet.

Stephen Welsh in action for Celtic against Rangers / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

You can understand Neil Lennon’s hesitancy to play any youngsters in the 10-in-a-row season. Especially when you consider we’re now only one defeat or so away from the 10 being outwith our reach.

But we’ve yet to find a central defensive combination that works whilst Welsh has shown a capability on the field and off it.

Lennon named him amongst the subs against Prague (away) and AC Milan (away), but other than a six-minute cameo against Lille back in October, Welsh’s chances have been non-existent.

It would be nice to see the manager stick by him in these games against the likes of Ross County and Hamilton for example. He’s shown he’s reliable enough, and the rest of the senior centre-backs aren’t impressing. There’s no real need to keep him in the background at the moment.

In other news, as many as SEVEN Celtic stars could face each other in the World Cup qualifiers after yesterday’s draw.