By the time Cameron Carter Vickers was announced as the final piece of a Dream Dozen transfer window jigsaw for Ange Postecoglou it was nigh on the midnight deadline. One player who may have realised the on-loan signing of the Spurs Central defender was a sign of a fiercely competitive footballing environment emerging was Ange Postecoglou’s first summer signing Osaze Urhoghide.
Having arrived at a club somewhat limited in defensive options, particularly after the exit of Kris Ajer to Brentford, the 21-year-old Centre half signed from Sheffield Wednesday by the same route teammate and good friend Liam Shaw had taken, would have been forgiven for thinking a chance to lay down a marker may come quicker than he thought. Instead Urhoghide knows chances will be limited and as and when they do arrive, he’ll have to hit the ground running.
Carter Vickers joined the defensive ranks already supplemented by the signing of Swedish International defender Carl Starfelt and with Academy graduate Stephen Welsh developing by the game. Dane Murray has also had promising first team involvement and Nir Bitton is always thereabouts. Meanwhile, bar some pre-season exposure, Urhoghide has had to bide his time as a member of the odd matchday squad but not yet making the team.
When Urhoghide signed on there were a great deal of disappointed Sheffield Wednesday fans making their views known. No-one was saying Osaze was the finished article but all seemed certain Celtic had signed a player of some potential. ‘Raw’ seemed the adjective used the most and one online scout described him as a player with a lot to work on but a lot to work with. And on early pre-season performances that description rang true.
Urhoghide by his own admittance likes a tackle, and he seemed to enjoy getting up close and personal with his opponents, this approach can be beneficial of course but so is choosing when to do so. On occasions the player looked easily turned, when standing half a yard off may have made him harder to get past, meanwhile on the ball control and distribution certainly smacked of the rawness the Wednesday fans had described.
Yet there is a strong physical and imposing nature to Urhoghide, there also appears a high level of confidence and an inner belief he has what it takes. In truth you can coach the passing, positioning and timing into players, and Postecoglou has a history of doing just that, but those other intangibles you don’t get from a coaching session, those are the elements a player brings naturally and once the other side of the game is up to speed you can have one hell of a player on your hands if the pieces fall into place.
Urhoghide will know he has a fight on his hands at Celtic, but as a player released by AFC Wimbledon and one who not only gained a contract at a club the size of Sheffield Wednesday but forced his way into the team and the hearts of the supporters, there is a determined individual in the Celtic ranks and one it appears who is willing to put in the graft.
Osaze also brings a versatility with an ability to play centrally and at full back. For me his strengths all scream Centre Half all day long, however with competition strong in that area he may well benefit from game time at full back where Ralston and Juranovic are his only competition.
There is no doubting Osaze Urhoghide will be aware he has a fight on his hands to claim a first team spot and the late signing of Carter Vickers probably emphasised that very point to the youngster, but if he realises he is in the right environment to learn, doesn’t believe he simply made it in the game by getting a contract at Celtic, and allies those natural talents to improvements in his technical proficiency Urhoghide can force his way into contention. For now, however patience is likely to be required.
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