SPL

Celtic defender Stephen Welsh enjoying the pressure at top

By Sports Desk February 12, 2024

Stephen Welsh can draw on 15 years of pressure at Celtic as another season moves towards a tense and exciting run-in.

The 24-year-old defender came through the club’s youth ranks before making his debut in February 2020 during a 4–1 win away to Hamilton.

Welsh has had to fight for game time since but has taken over recently from injured Cameron Carter-Vickers and he was again paired with Liam Scales for the trip to St Mirren on Sunday.

The Scottish champions have been criticised at times this season for their performances but the 2-0 Scottish Gas Scottish Cup win in Paisley, which set up a quarter-final clash with Livingston next month, made it eight wins and a draw in their last nine games.

Celtic also lead Rangers by three points at the top of the cinch Premiership, albeit the Light Blues having the chance to go top against Ross County at Ibrox on Wednesday night with their game in hand.

Welsh, who signed a new four-year deal last August, said: “I’ve known the pressure for 15 years now. Every week you need to go and win.

“You enjoy it as well, you enjoy the pressure because you need to win. A draw or a defeat is a nightmare so yeah, we know the pressure and we stand up to it all the time.

“We are used to this. Every season the pressure for every Celtic player is huge.

“We deal with it really well. Especially the last couple of seasons, we have been very successful and it is about us maintaining the standards to be successful again and go and win the trophies that are available to us.

“There is always a determination in this group. Not only the quality but the character that we have.

“We have a lot of experienced players who have won trophies. We won a treble last season so the experience we have in the team is excellent.

“We take every game 100 per cent, every training session leads up to the next game so for us, it is normal for us to be under that pressure and we always deal with it very well.

“We are always strong together. We know that every team wants to beat Celtic and our job is to win games, perform well and win trophies for the club.”

Welsh is delighted to be back in the first team and enjoyed a tough test against the Buddies who succumbed to goals from Japanese duo Kyogo Furuhashi and Daizen Maeda.

He said: “It was a frustrating first few months, I had a bad injury and was out for four or five months so to get back into the swing of things, that is my first 90 minutes in a while so delighted with the clean sheet as well. Joe Hart had to make a couple of saves but that is what he is there for.

“They are a physical team and they like to put balls in the  box.

“It is very effective for them. We had to deal with it and I thought we dealt with it well as a back four and Joe included.

“We are together, we are really a united team so we will move forward.”

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