Ange Postecoglou has revealed Carl Starfelt could make his Celtic debut this weekend, after the manager admitted his defence for the Champions League qualifier against Midtjylland won’t have the experience he would like.
Starfelt signed for Celtic from Rubin Kazan last week but is ineligible for Wednesday’s crucial match against Midtjylland because he wasn’t registered before the first leg, which finished 1-1 at Celtic Park.
The Swedish defender is already training ahead of his debut, and Postecoglou said that first appearance could eb against Hearts on Saturday.
“Carl has started some individual training and we are hoping he joins us at Lennoxtown by the time we get back to Scotland,” he said. “We will see what his condition is like then but he should be available by the weekend.”
The 26-year-old will be a pleasing sight for Postecoglou, who finds himself short on defensive options with important games to prepare for. Diego Laxalt, Jonjoe Kenny and Shane Duffy all returned to their parent clubs when loans expired at the end of last season, while Kristoffer Ajer has been sold to Brentford. Christopher Jullien is still “a couple of months” away from a return from injury, while Nir Bitton is suspended for the second leg against Midtjylland after being sent off.
A makeshift, and young, defence was breached repeatedly in a 6-2 friendly defeat to West Ham on Saturday, with experienced goalkeeper Vasilis Barkas once again coming under fire for his performance.
Postecoglou said his goalkeeper’s confidence wasn’t damaged but said he was more concerned with the overall performance of his team right now.
The manager said: “I’m shying away from focusing on individuals because I feel that for where we are in this moment in time, it’s the collective that’s going to get us the kind of results and performance we need.
“We’re such a young group at the moment. You look at our back four, potentially, and there’s not a player over 24 years of age, I think.
“And I would hate to think how many appearances between the four of them.
“I can’t start isolating individuals and trying to analyse their games too deeply because ultimately it’s not going to make a difference to what we’re trying to do now. We’re trying to achieve something and the only way is as a collective.”