Celtic younger Leo Fuhr Hjelde has had a difficult time on loan at Ross County.
The Norwegian, signed from the Rosenborg youth set-up in 2019, has played on 5 occasions for the Staggies. Only once has he been on the winning team, while picking up two yellow cards in that time.
It’s a steep learning curve for the 17-year-old. One thing Hjelde needs to get used to, according to Ross County boss John Hughes, is controversy. After a very debatable penalty decision led to St Mirren beating the Dingwall side [BBC], Hjelde was said to be inconsolable.
After the game, St Mirren boss Jim Goodwin backed his man Collin Quaner, who allegedly exaggerated contact made with Hjelde in the Ross County penalty box [Herald].
Hughes, similarly, has backed his man. The Ross County boss told Not The Old Firm:
“I’ve had to pick him up off the floor because Leo felt there was a real injustice.
“We had to pick him up but that is part of football. It was never a penalty kick and everybody can see that. You have to ask the referee why he gave it and I don’t know what he’s seen to give it. But that’s football.
“We all make mistakes. I have made so many since working here. So that’s life but what you do is pick yourself and get on with it. That’s what Leo has to do and he has trained well since then. That’s part of the learning process for him but I don’t think he did anything wrong.”
Celtic loanee Leo Hjelde backed by Ross County boss
It’s not hard to feel sorry for the Norwegian youngster. He’s certainly getting a thorough education in the more rough-and-tumble end of the Scottish Premiership. With that education will come injustices, mistakes and opportunities to learn.
Hjelde is well thought of by the Celtic Academy coaches, and his loan move was certainly a wise one. Even if his performances aren’t outstanding, Hughes is a good coach to learn from at such a young age. Hjelde will definitely learn much about the physical side of the game, especially tackling and aerial duels.
Celtic will be hoping that Leo Hjelde can imitate his countryman, Kristoffer Ajer. Ajer was a far better player after a successful stint at Kilmarnock, where he made 16 Premiership appearances [Transfermarkt].
For now, Hjelde is licking his wounds after his first real controversy. No doubt, he’ll be a better player for it, but the experience itself is nothing to envy.