Having broken through into the Celtic first-team as a result of the Hoops’ injury crisis in the heart of defence last season, Stephen Welsh is a player who there is a great deal of excitement about at Parkhead.
It is easy to see why, as, despite being just 20 years of age at the time, the centre-back highly impressed over his 16 Scottish Premiership appearances last term, helping his side keep seven clean sheets and scoring one goal, as well as making an average of 1.2 interceptions, 0.9 tackles, 3.6 clearances and winning 5.8 duels per game.
These returns saw the defender earn a seasonal SofaScore match rating of 7.04, ranking him as the Bhoys’ 12th-best performer in the league – a rather extraordinary feat considering the youngster’s lack of first-team experience and the rather toxic atmosphere surrounding Celtic last year.
Indeed, Welsh was one of the few bright sparks in a season that saw the Hoops fail to secure their fabled 10 in a row Premiership titles, with the 21-year-old looking to have been continuing his upward trajectory under the new management of Ange Postecoglou in the current campaign.
Over the £1.08m-rated man’s four league appearances this season, he has helped the Bhoys keep two clean sheets and has provided one assist, in addition to making an average of 0.8 interceptions, one tackle, 2.5 clearances and winning 5.8 duels per fixture.
Although, despite these impressive displays, Welsh has now not featured in four consecutive league fixtures, something that would appear largely down to the budding partnership of summer signings Cameron Carter-Vickers and Carl Starfelt in the heart of Celtic’s backline.
However, should Postecoglou wish to continue the development of a player who Martin Millar dubbed a “phenomenal” talent most efficiently, it would seem a very wise move for the 56-year-old to unleash Welsh in the league once again sooner rather than later, or else the Hoops boss risks putting the brakes on the remarkable rise of the 21-year-old – who very much appears to be destined for the top.