Scottish champions Celtic are currently facing something of a defensive injury crisis, with last season’s title-winning centre-back pairing of Cameron Carter-Vickers and Carl Starfelt both currently sidelined.
While the international break may well provide the necessary time for that impressive duo to return to fitness, there are likely concerns as to whether they will be able to feature once league action resumes at the start of next month, with Ange Postecoglou’s side having already felt the effect of their absence against St Mirren last weekend.
That grim, 2-0 defeat away in Paisley saw the Old Firm outfit struggle to contend with the Buddies’ powerful attacking partnership of Curtis Main and Jonah Ayunga, with the backline having simply been a “mess” on the day, in the words of journalist Josh Bunting.
The most obvious culprit for that limp showing was Carter-Vickers’ replacement, Stephen Welsh, with the 22-year-old enduring a torrid afternoon alongside summer signing Moritz Jenz, with the pair having looked “all over the place”, according to Bunting.
The Scotland U21 international was criticised for his “weak” defending in the build-up to the home side’s second goal by Sky Sports commentator Andy Walker, having gone to ground far too easily following a rather innocuous nudge from the impressive and imposing Main.
Such a performance – on what was the academy graduate’s second league start of the season – has raised question marks over his ability to provide adequate cover at the heart of the defence, with Postecoglou potentially needing another option if both Starfelt and Carter-Vickers are to remain unavailable for a little while longer.
A seemingly obvious pick would be that of 19-year-old, Dane Murray, with the youth star having already caught the eye in his embryonic senior career thus far, having featured in Champions League qualifying against FC Midtjylland last season.
While those two outings against the Danish outfit remain his only taste of life at first team level, the “remarkable” teenager – as dubbed by former youth coach Martin Miller – showcased real confidence and composure across the two legs, having been lauded for his “fantastic” debut by teammate Welsh.
The Hoops boss was also full of praise for his display having been thrust into the action following a red card to Nir Bitton in the first leg, highlighting the youngster’s “personality and character” which “belies his age.”
Although the young Scot has since been unable to force his way back into the manager’s plans, it could well be the ideal time for a recall once club action returns next week, with the Welsh-Jenz defensive axis having simply not worked out on Sunday.