Stephen Welsh takes no blame for this season’s results and could be the answer to the defensive issues at Celtic. 

That’s according to former Hoops hitman Frank McAvennie, speaking exclusively to Football Insider about Welsh’s development.

Welsh, 21, signed a new four-year deal earlier this season after breaking into the first team.

The academy graduate became a permanent fixture in Neil Lennon’s last few Celtic squads and he has kept his place under John Kennedy.

He hasn’t missed a minute of the Hoops’ last eight league games but had an unpleasant encounter with Jermain Defoe in last weekend’s Old Firm.

With just minutes left to play, Defoe managed to turn Welsh inside out before slotting the ball into the back of the net.

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McAvennie insists Welsh bears no responsibility for Celtic’s poor season and claims he will continue to be a permanent fixture next year.

“The jury is out on the boy Welsh,” McAvennie told Football Insider correspondent Ben Wild.

“He takes no blame for this season, not for me, he’s been brilliant. He’s a young boy who has been thrown in there. 

“He’s got a lot of learning to do. He needs someone to help him out but everyone has just looked after themselves this year. 

“For me, he gets a pass mark for this season. 

“He’s going to be in there next season. Is he the answer to Celtic’s problems? He might be but he has a lot to learn.”

Welsh scored the first senior goal of his career in February’s 2-1 win over Motherwell.

After signing his new contract, Welsh said, “I’m delighted to get it done and I’m here for another four years which is the perfect scenario for me.”

In other news, Olivier Ntcham is tipped to dazzle at Celtic next season amid “huge” twist.