Now that he is finally available to play for Celtic, Ange Postecoglou must unleash defender Carl Starfelt against Hearts in their Scottish Premiership season opener tonight.
The Swedish centre-back has been stuck in quarantine following his transfer from Rubin Kazan and was forced to watch on as his new teammates lost to Midtjylland in the Champions League qualifiers earlier this week.
However, speaking in the lead-up to Celtic’s clash with Hearts, the enforcer confirmed that he feels ready to make his debut, saying: “It is a true honour to be here and to come to such a big club, with such great history and maybe the world’s best fans, so it really is a huge honour for me and I am very happy.
“If the coach wants to play me I will of course play and give 100 per cent. That is up to the coach to decide if I will play or not, I have been training the last few days and I feel ready.”
This shows that the Swedish international is prepared to play and Postecoglou should throw him straight into the starting XI to solve a glaring issue in the team. Against Midtjylland on Wednesday, young defender Stephen Welsh struggled at the heart of the defence.
As per SofaScore, he only won two duels in the entire match and lost possession of the ball 12 times. He was given a meagre rating of 6.4, the second-lowest score to come out of the match. The 21-year-old was unable to stamp his mark on the game to show that he deserves to start against Hearts, which is why Starfelt should now be handed his Hoops debut.
He impressed with several facets of his game at Rubin Kazan last season, averaging 1.1 tackles, 1.4 interception and 3.9 clearances per match (only two Celtic players bettered him for the latter), while a 91.4% passing success rate showed his efficiency with the ball.
Postecoglou hailed the 1.87m (6 foot 1) beast as a strong and experienced player upon his official unveiling as a Celtic player. The manager said: “Carl is an experienced player and someone with the attributes to be a real success at Celtic. He is a strong, athletic and committed defender and will add quality to our squad.”
This shows how highly the Australian coach rates the centre-back, as you would expect given that he has just been signed by the club, and he now needs to be given the opportunity to show the fans what he is capable of producing. With Welsh underperforming at the back in midweek, Postecoglou could solve a major issue by allowing Starfelt to make his Celtic debut tonight.