The emergence of Stephen Welsh should give Celtic fans “a wee bit of respite” from the disappointment of this season, according to Alex McLeish.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the former Rangers and Scotland boss has admitted the Parkhead faithful will be fuming over the way their team has performed so far but suggested the rise of young players may soften the blow.
Welsh made just his second league start of the season against Hibernian on Monday night as the majority of the squad – as well as Neil Lennon and John Kennedy – were forced into self-isolation.
The 20-year-old also started the first Glasgow derby of the season against Rangers, while he played three times in the Europa League.
McLeish has admitted that there has been little for Celtic supporters to celebrate this season but that Welsh’s emergence into a potential first-team talent may give them some hope for the future.
“The main thing is that they will still be pretty hurt about not mounting a more competitive challenge thus far,” McLeish told Football Insider.
“It does give the supporters a wee bit of respite when they see some good young players coming through, there’s no doubt about that, and Welsh has acquitted himself well.
“He didn’t look out of place the other night and he’s the one for the future – but the Celtic fans are only thinking about the present.”
Welsh has a total of six first-team appearances under his belt so far for the Bhoys, having made his debut against Hamilton back in February 2020.
A graduate of the Bhoys’ youth ranks, he also played 15 times on loan at Greenock Morton and has 13 appearances under his belt for Scotland’s under-19s.