Celtic haven’t spent long feeling down in the dumps about their missed signing of Ben Davies. The Hoops burst back into action with an emphatic win over Kilmarnock in the Scottish Premiership last night.
After going four goals to the good, Neil Lennon and his side relished in what is a rare victory these days for Celtic. Their win on the road is only their second win in their last seven fixtures – the reigning champions of Scotland have been hugely out of sorts this season.
Missing out on major January target Davies could still spell worries for the Bhoys moving forwards, but youngster Stephen Welsh looks to be stepping up to the plate.
Because of his disappointing loan spell and performances, Shane Duffy was dropped to the bench last night. Instead, the 6 foot 3 Welsh partnered Kristoffer Ajer at centre-back and put in an impressive performance to keep Kilmarnock out.
According to Sofascore, the £180,000-valued youngster completed 93% accurate passes which was the joint-highest of any player on the pitch along with teammate Callum McGregor – a real step-up in quality from Duffy, whose average of 82.8% this season is the lowest of any Hoops centre-back.
Welsh also showed his defensive reading of the game by making four clearances, one tackle and two interceptions. His clearances were the joint-highest among his teammates, while only new signing Jonjoe Kenny and Scott Brown made more than his pair of interceptions.
The up-and-coming defender also lost the ball the least amount of times out of the entire Celtic backline. He gave up possession on just six occasions compared to Ajer’s 12, Greg Taylor’s 21 and new signing Jonjoe Kenny’s hefty 26, an indication of how composed he is and really showcasing why The Athletic’s Kieran Devlin hailed him as the “modern defender“.
In fact, his total of 97 touches on the night were the third-most of any Hoops player, and that bit of confidence he has on the ball shone through in his passing choices and ability to bring the ball out of defence better.
Whilst a 4-0 win over Kilmarnock isn’t the solution to all of Celtic’s recent problems, Lennon will have been very impressed knowing that the 21-year-old Welsh has a strong performance in his locker. His eagerness to be noticed and force his way into the senior side permanently is showing and if he continues these impressive shifts and constantly improves, he could be the saviour Celtic never knew they had.
If the Hoops are intent on building on a new era, then Welsh could well be the leading man. They may have missed out on Davies, but in their own young starlet, they could have the future of their defence.
In other news, Duffy handed huge lifeline as Celtic miss out on Ben Davies…