By Alan Hutton

23rd Oct, 2020 | 5:43pm

Exclusive: Top pundit wowed by barely-seen Celtic ace after rare sighting

Alan Hutton has praised the performances of young Celtic defender Stephen Welsh.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, the former Rangers and Scotland full-back said the 20-year-old was one of only a Hoops few players who came out of Saturday’s Old Firm game with any credit.

The 2-0 defeat was just Welsh’s second first-team game for Celtic and he quickly followed it up with a start against AC Milan in the Europa League on Thursday night.

The Scotland under-19 international spent part of last season on loan at Scottish Championship side Greenock Morton.

He earned a surprise call up for Saturday’s Old Firm clash because Neil Lennon was without multiple defensive options because of coronavirus and injury.

Israeli pair Nir Bitton and Hatem Elhamed both tested positive for the virus while away on international duty earlier this month.

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Meanwhile, Christopher Julien was out with a back problem which will keep him on the sidelines until November.

Welsh got the nod against Rangers alongside Kristoffer Ajer and the experienced Shane Duffy as Neil Lennon persisted with his 3-5-2 formation.

Asked by Football Insider whether Welsh has a bright future with Celtic, Hutton said: “You’d like to think so.

“There’s no tougher test in Scotland than the Old Firm. To come out and handle himself the way he did was good.

“There was probably one or two things he could have done better but he’s young, he’ll learn.

“You need to get through these games to get the experience of what to do in these situations.

“He has good people around him that will obviously help him through.

“Overall he was one of only a few Celtic players that can be happy with his performance.”

Despite the defeat to Rangers, Welsh backed his teammates to bounceback.

He said: “There are serial winners in that changing room. It is still early in the season and it is one result.”

In other news, a Celtic 27-year-old who will be out for many weeks is a “massive miss”.