Undoubtedly, most Celtic supporters will see few material positives to take from the 2020/21 campaign.

Facing an enormous rebuild this summer, one man who will be staying put at the Hoops is breakthrough star Stephen Welsh. Coming through the youth set-up at Lennoxtown, the Scot has established himself as an important part of the Celtic starting eleven this season.

The 21-year-old has recently earned deserved adulation by signing a new four year contract at the Celts [Sky Sports]. With Kristoffer Ajer set to leave the club due to rumoured interest [BT Sport], Coatbridge-born Welsh must be prioritised as a first-choice central-defender in 2021/22.

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Featuring in 17 fixtures thus far [Transfermarkt], the youngster has excelled as part of the Celtic backline. Helping his side to four clean sheets in the last six games [BBC Sport], he has forged a dependable partnership with the aforementioned Ajer. His diverse attributes have seen him settle into the Hoops line-up harmoniously, whilst he retains room for growth developmentally.

Stephen Welsh is the only centre-back we can rely on to be fit and available for the club

Celtic academy graduate Stephen Welsh / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Welsh is a dominant presence who can anticipate dangerous situations

 Celtic have suffocated defensively at times this campaign, that much is clear to see. Despite this, Welsh has been a bright spark in terms of his ability to command his positional zone. Averaging 3.2 clearances per 90 minutes in the Scottish Premiership, he is able to anticipate danger effectively on a regular basis [WhoScored].

 

Quietly going about his business, the Scottish defender has really grown to be a dominant presence in the Celtic rearguard. Lacking players willing to attack the ball in recent times, Welsh has chalked up an impressive 3.7 successful aerial duels per match for the Celts [WhoScored]. At just under six foot, he possesses a considerable leap which enables him to win tussles against taller opponents.

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He is also comfortable in possession, a vital component of being a Celtic player

Stephen Welsh in action for Celtic

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

Lastly, his passing accuracy stands at a respectable 86% [WhoScored]. An integral element of being a successful Celtic player, he is able to rotate the ball with minimal fuss. Level-headedness in all facets of the game is a necessary quality in the functionality of a modern-day footballer. Welsh has shown he is a well-rounded centre-back who has blossomed with continuous first-team openings.

Looking ahead, he should be given assurances as a first pick come 2021/22. As his stock continues to rise, surely it will only be a matter of time before he receives international recognition.

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