I want Stephen Welsh to stay at Celtic – Brendan Rodgers
Brendan Rodgers told Stephen Welsh he sees the defender’s future at Celtic Park after he came in from the cold to help the champions see off a spirited Aberdeen in a 3-1 victory at Pittodrie.
Welsh replaced the injured Cameron Carter-Vickers at half-time with Celtic 2-1 ahead following an exciting opening period.
It was the centre-back’s first appearance for 10 months and he strolled through the 45 minutes with Aberdeen unable to carve out many clear-cut chances despite some decent spells of possession.
Rodgers is hoping to secure a new centre-back in the coming days after Celtic made a move for Elfsborg’s Gustaf Lagerbielke.
But he sees Welsh as a key part of his squad following the departure of Carl Starfelt to Celta Vigo.
“I thought he was excellent when he came in,” Rodgers said. “I like Stephen. I took him with me one pre-season when he was a young player because I really liked him.
“For whatever reason he hasn’t maybe played the games but he’s a Celtic boy who wants to be at the club. I want him to be at the club.
“I said to him, ‘I can’t guarantee you how many games you are going to play. You may play 40 games in the season’.
“But I know he is always ready. He trains very hard every day and he came into the game, he played with composure, and he is aggressive. It was really well done from him.”
Celtic also lost half-time substitute Reo Hatate to injury.
Rodgers said: “Cam just felt his hamstring towards the end of the half so hopefully that will not be too bad. And Reo just felt something in his calf. It’s better for precaution sake to get them off and we will see in the next couple of days how they are.”
Odin Thiago Holm replaced Hatate in the 70th minute before Yang Hyin-jun came off the bench to set up Matt O’Riley’s clincher in the 84th minute.
On the Norwegian midfielder, Rodgers said: “He is a good player, he is going to really show his talent as he goes through his time at Celtic. He is a fantastic footballer. He has got an edge, he can see a pass, can move well.
“And Yang came into the game and sets up the third goal with a great bit of skill. So I am really pleased for all the boys who came into the game and contributed.”
Aberdeen gave as good as they got in the first half but Nicky Devlin’s short headed back pass allowed Kyogo Furuhashi to fire Celtic back in front after Bojan Miovski had cancelled out Liel Abada’s early opener.
Rodgers said: “Overall it was a very good win, some spells of good football and in those moments of adversity we stayed strong. It will be great for the spirit because we had to come through tough moments.”
Celtic have won 13 times at Pittodrie since last losing an away game against the Dons in February 2016 but Aberdeen boss Barry Robson felt his team’s performance was a forward step.
“We were really brave,” he said. “We tried to go after them and we made the game a bit basketball at times and sometimes it was survival of the fittest out there.
“It was entertaining stuff and it was dangerous at times from us but we wanted to have a go and try and win the game.
“It was probably our own doing with a couple of individual errors that cost us in the end but also the quality of the opposition.
“We tried to play in a way that is aggressive and brings speed to the game and I think we did that.
“I think that’s as good a performance you have seen from an Aberdeen team here against Celtic for a lot of years.”
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