I was surprised yesterday to find that Stephen Welsh was not in the squad for the Scottish Cup tie.
Because I thought he acquitted himself well against Hamilton, and he deserved to be given consideration.
People love to see a youth prospect come through.
Then I found out that he was cup tied. That made sense, otherwise he would almost certainly have not only been in the squad but in the team itself.
Our transfer window was a little dismal. I’ve written about it already and I don’t want to labour the point. But here’s a confession; I was never that keen on the idea of us bringing in Leicester’s Benkovic, although we needed a centre back. For one thing, he barely played under Lennon the last time and I really don’t think spending money to take someone else’s bench-warmer and have him warm our bench instead is a worthwhile exercise.
I would far rather see someone emerge from our own ranks than that, and this is why I was particularly pleased to see young Welsh getting the nod. Our academy has developed an excellent reputation for bringing through first team stars; I’d like to think this will be one of them.
It’s a while since Celtic did this, a while since we produced a centre back who went into the first team.
Was Darren O’Dea the last one? I think he probably was.
John Kennedy was the last who really grabbed the first team place by the scruff of the neck.
McManus served us reasonably well and even played the captains role in a title winning team.
(It is much longer since we produced a striker who would qualify as “Celtic class”; it is one of my greatest frustrations that I never got to see our club produce a really phenomenal forward in the time I remember watching them.
A lot of pretenders have come and gone, most disappointingly the likes of Donnelly, Burchill, Watt and Creaney.)
In a sense it is good that the manager rates Welsh as a prospect but isn’t going to overwhelm him with pressure; the same logic is being applied to young Karamoko Dembele, who’s quality is known to all of us.
These guys need to be allowed to develop and grow without too much being foisted onto their shoulders, but I am encouraged by their growth as players who are now part of the first team squad. This, as much as big signings, are what fans want to see.
Welsh will certainly play more games in the course of the campaign; in a very real sense his emergence might well be the silver lining of the last transfer window.
Time will tell, of course, but I think we can feel confident.
Lennon has a good eye, and he thinks this kid can make it.