Less than a month after returning to the club from a loan spell, Celtic could be set to give defender Stephen Welsh a new deal at Parkhead.
Football Insider reported that the Hoops are working to secure the services of the 20-year-old by trying to persuade him to sign a new contract, with the player’s current deal expiring at the end of this season. According to Football Insider, Celtic manager Neil Lennon held talks with the youngster and believes that he is capable of establishing himself in the first team in the future.
Welsh spent the first half of the season on loan at Greenock Morton and was due to remain with the Championship club until the end of this campaign, only to be recalled by Celtic in January and given a first team debut for the Hoops in the recent win over Hamilton. He was then named on the bench for the subsequent Premiership game at Motherwell but did not feature, nor was he involved in the weekend Scottish Cup win against Clyde.
While the youngster earned some impressive reviews following his performance at New Douglas Park – David Walton of 67hailhail.com said that his “distribution from the back was on point and he didn’t look out of place” while Kade Kistner of thecelticbhoys.com wrote that he “looked comfortable filling out the back line” – he has still played just one senior competitive game for the Hoops. Therefore, Lennon and the club must rate him very highly if they feel confident enough in his ability after only one match at top-flight level to tie him down to a new contract.
Indeed, Welsh is not the only young right-back to have caught the eye at Celtic this season – Jeremie Frimpong arrived at the club in September having never played a senior competitive game and had established himself as a first team regular prior to getting injured against Kilmarnock recently, with Lennon not specifying a likely return date (as per Daily Record).
Welsh played 18 times for Greenock Morton this season before his recall by Celtic, where he is now in line to be awarded a new contract. His evolution in recent months could provide ideal motivation for other young players on the Parkhead club’s books.
Lee O’Connor and Jonathan Afolabi were both loaned out last month, having yet to play competitively for the Hoops since signing last summer, but if they can carve out regular action at Partick Thistle and Dunfermline respectively, then Lennon may be persuaded to throw them into the first team once they return to Celtic like he has done with Welsh. Along with Frimpong, the 20-year-old has shown that there is a pathway to the first team for youngsters at Parkhead if they do enough to win the trust of their manager.
Celtic fans, would you like to see Welsh being given a new contract by the club? Do you think other youngsters at Parkhead could break into the first team after going out on loan? Comment below with your views!
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