Stephen Welsh spoke to the Mainstream Media ahead of his manager yesterday as the Celtic pre-match preparations for the trip to Dingwall for the Sunday evening 7pm kick-off Scottish Premiership match got underway. Celtic travelled up today – somewhat ridiculously taking up to six Parks of Hamilton coaches to get there, so at least it’s a nice little earner for theRangers chairman. Anyone know why fewer Celtic players are allowed on coaches that any other team? Answers on a post to the First Minister.
Celtic trained this morning before making the journey up the A9 to the Highlands. Neil Lennon had already said that the hotel they are staying in is opening up especially for Celtic and he estimates that it will be around 4.30am before they convoy of Parks of Hamilton buses gets back to Glasgow.
Here’s some video highlights from today’s training session as the heavy rain fell on Lennoxtown.
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So while Neil Lennon’s comments from yesterday grabbed the spotlight – with everything from injury news, to his thoughts on the Scottish Government dragging Celtic into the latest Covid protocol breaches from theRangers, the young defender’s comments have been largely overlooked. One thing of particular interest was his respect and admiration for the Republic of Ireland skipper Shane Duffy. Despite having a tough time personally, Duffy remains an influential figure for Welsh as he develops into a first team regular.
“Shane Duffy is one of the more-experienced players in the team,” Welsh revealed. “He’s an international player who has played at the highest level and every day he is chatting away about what you can do better and what you are good at. He’s helped me a lot.
“I wouldn’t say we are direct rivals. There’s competition in every position, especially at a team like this. Everyone is fighting for their position, so it doesn’t matter who plays every week.
“Shane being an experienced player and me being a younger player, he does his best to help. His character is unbelievable. I think every player goes through a difficult spell and everyone has had it at this club and at different clubs, he’s got the character to come through the other end. There’s no doubt about that,” Welsh said.
The defender was stretched off in the win at Paisley and missed the game at St Johnstone but he was back fully fit for the home game against Aberdeen in midweek and Neil Lennon had no hesitation in restoring him to the starting eleven immediately. “That was a big confidence boost after missing a game through injury. The boys won and played well against St Johnstone,” Welsh noted.
With Duffy struggling for fitness tomorrow, Welsh will more than likely team-up with Kris Ajer who was named Man of the Match for the 1-0 over Aberdeen and the two look a very solid pairing. Welsh is clearly an admirer of the Norwegian who this week celebrated 5 years as a Celtic player.
“Kris is a fantastic player – a great defender and good on the ball,” Welsh said. “With his speed, that gives you a bit more confidence if you make a mistake. He’s in behind to help you. He’s a great defender for us.
“As well as being a footballer, you need to be strong, especially in the Scottish league. Some of the strikers you come up against could be bigger or taller than you, so you need to put in the work in the gym.
“I have done that the past few months which has helped a lot. It’s very physical every game, especially the other night against Aberdeen. That was a very physical game.
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“The upper body stuff helps a lot and, hopefully, it helps when we face other physical teams in the league because everyone has big players. Centre-halves coming up for corners as well.”
Celtic are starting to win games and the defence is starting to shut up shop. Normal service is being resumed slowly but surely. “That’s a few clean sheets now and five wins on the bounce is massive,” Welsh noted.
You can watch his Media Conference below…