Why Celtic want another centre-back despite having 4 options
One glance at the depth Celtic have in their centre-back ranks and you may think that we’re sorted in the position for the coming season.
Cameron Carter-Vickers signing up was a big boost as he looks to rejoin defensive partner Carl Starfelt at the heart of the Hoops backline next season. Meanwhile, we have the experienced Christopher Jullien fit and available with Stephen Welsh also involved – a player Ange Postecoglou rates highly [The Scotsman].
However, when you look a touch deeper, our options aren’t as strong as we would truly like them to be.
There’s nothing wrong with our first-choice pairing of Carter-Vickers and Starfelt. However, Jullien hasn’t shown Ange anything that encouraged him to give him a run last season. Despite being fit since January, he was only given a short cameo appearance against Raith Rovers. Even in that appearance he looked a touch leggy – understandable of course given he had been out for over a year.
But Ange clearly doesn’t feel as though he can rely on Jullien even during a heavy fixture schedule. That much was evident during the second half of the campaign. He was only involved in 4 Premiership matchday squads too. Ange didn’t even want him on the bench in the event of an injury to one of our centre-backs.
Jullien has stated in an interview with Goal that he’ll consider a move if things don’t change next season. So Celtic will be looking to prepare for that in any case.
Christopher Jullien and Stephen Welsh not at the level to challenge Celtic centre-backs
As for Welsh, he has the basics tied down and has good performances in him. But consistency has always been a problem for him. For every decent performance there’s a Livingston away moment that cost us 3 points last season. As commanding as Stephen can be, there are times where the concentration too easily slips.
That’s what separates him from the current starters. If anything was to happen to CCV or Starfelt, the Celtic support wouldn’t be comfortable investing faith in either of the potential replacements.
It’s no surprises then that we’re monitoring options such as Ko Itakura and Taylor Harwood-Bellis [Sky Sports]. We need to bolster our options and bridge the gap in quality between our first-choice picks and those in reserve.
If we had better quality waiting in the wings last season, chances are there would’ve been a lot more rest time for CCV and Starfelt. Ange simply had to keep going with both because he didn’t trust the other options at his disposal.
This is simply the next phase of squad evolution. Ensuring that those who can come in from the cold are of a better quality than what we had available last season. There remain too many positions at the club where the reserve option is nowhere near the standard of the first-choice.
Ensuring that difference is narrowed will be a big help to achieving our goals next season. That’s why Celtic are on the hunt for another centre-back.