Celtic‘s title success last term was largely built on the defensive pairing of Cameron Carter-Vickers and Carl Starfelt, with that duo having been the first-choice for manager Ange Postecoglou throughout his debut campaign.
That “immense” partnership – as dubbed by pundit Chris Sutton – were integral to the Parkhead outfit’s relentless triumph as the club conceded just 22 league goals all season, with that by far the best record of any Scottish Premiership side during that glorious 2021/22 campaign.
A few months into the new season, however, and the Hoops have rarely been able to deploy the two men together in the backline, with Starfelt, in particular, having been restricted to a watching brief due to injury.
The Sweden international missed the start of the season with a hamstring injury, before being forced out again after sustaining a knee issue in the Old Firm derby victory last month, ensuring that the 27-year-old has made just four appearances so far this term.
In his absence, Postecoglou has handed chances to both Moritz Jenz and Stephen Welsh alongside Carter-Vickers, although neither man has as yet nailed down that starting role, opening the door for another contender to stake their claim.
The former Yokohama boss could well find his ideal long-term partner for the United States international in the form of 19-year-old Bosun Lawal, with the versatile colossus – who can also feature in central midfield – having showcased his quality at youth level of late.
The Republic of Ireland youth international – who has been dubbed a “superb” talent by talent scout Jacek Kulig – was snapped up by the Scottish champions last summer on a £120k deal from Watford, having managed to win the race for his signature ahead of the likes of Chelsea and Norwich City.
The scramble for the youngster’s services is a marker of the defender’s undoubted talent, having also recently been lauded by ex-Bhoys star Tom Boyd, with the Scotsman stating:
“I could do that; be comfortable on the ball, break forward, use your pace and speed.
“He’s certainly got a lot of those attributes. Sometimes that can be the thing that unlocks the door with [Celtic]. Certainly the first team, the way we press, and the way we get forward and play in advanced areas. It’s often the centre-backs that are playmakers.
“He looks as though he’s very accomplished, very comfortable. [He can] just cause confusion in organised defences that we go up against. He’s certainly one that’s stood up and looking very comfortable in possession, a physical presence as well.”
Having been a “real find” for the club according to ‘B’ team coach Tommy McIntyre, the teenager has also showcased his quality in an attacking sense so far this term, with an impressive return of five goals and two assists in just ten games in all competitions.
The imposing brute had been included in Postecoglou’s travelling party for the trip to Austria during pre-season, with it clear to see that he is on the cusp of securing a place in the first team, having been denied an opportunity at senior level to date.
Amid Starfelt’s current injury woes, it could well be an ideal chance for Lawal to be offered the chance to impress in the coming weeks, with that starting berth alongside Carter-Vickers still seemingly up for grabs.