Celtic defender Stephen Welsh could well be in line for an exit from Parkhead in the New Year, according to journalist Pete O’Rourke…
The Scottish Daily Express reported earlier this week that the 22-year-old is facing an uncertain future in Glasgow, with clubs across Europe believed to be monitoring his situation ahead of a possible swoop in the winter window.
O’Rourke has now offered his thoughts on that potential departure in an interview with Football FanCast, with the transfer insider stating that it could well be hard for the centre-back to get game time in the coming months, particularly following the addition of Japanese star, Yuki Kobayashi.
Asked about Welsh’s future, the respected source stated: “Yeah, it’s going to be hard for Stephen Welsh to break into that Celtic team right now. He’s well down the pecking order and I think the arrival of Kobayashi from Vissel Kobe in January will then increase competition for places even more.
“So he’s not going to get many first-team opportunities between now and the end of the season if he remains at Celtic – I think he’s only made six appearances this season.”
It could well prove time for manager Ange Postecoglou to finally ditch the peripheral figure amid this interest in his services, with the Hoops academy graduate having hardly had a look in so far this term.
The one-time Greenock Morton loanee had enjoyed a real breakthrough campaign last season after making 24 appearances in all competitions for the Bhoys, although the youngster was unable to truly threaten the “immense” centre-back pairing of Carl Starfelt and Cameron Carter-Vickers, as described by Chris Sutton.
That has also been the case this time around with Welsh having been restricted to just six appearances across all fronts to date, with only four of those having come in the top flight for the Scottish champions.
Having already seemingly been fighting a losing battle to dislodge the aforementioned duo of Starfelt and Carter-Vickers, the arrival of Moritz Jenz over the summer further shunted the Scotsman down the pecking order, with the on-loan Lorient man having featured 19 times this season by contrast.
Although the Coatbridge-born dud has been impacted by injury of late, the £4.6k-per-week man has hardly helped his cause after struggling when he has had a chance to shine, having been branded “weak” by pundit Michael Stewart following the loss to St Mirren back in September – the club’s only league defeat of the season.
There may well be a sense that Postecoglou simply can’t trust the 6 foot 3 brute, with pundit Frank McAvennie having only recently suggested that the player could do with a loan exit in order to “toughen him up“.
With Welsh’s existing deal set to run until 2025, it is yet to be seen if a temporary or permanent exit will occur, although at present it is no good to anyone to have him merely languishing on the bench.