STEPHEN WELSH has given Brendan Rodgers a problem after answering the call to make his comeback in the 2-1 Champions League triumph over feyenoord at a rocking Parkhead last night.
The centre-back admitted he was surprised to get the nod to play against the Dutch cracks after being sidelined with an ankle injury since his last appearance as a second-half substitute in the 3-1 victory over Aberdeen at Pittodrie on August 13.
Exactly four months later, Welsh was pitched into the final European encounter of the campaign – and has now given his manager a selection headache.
IT TAKES TWO…Stephen Welsh and Brendan Rodgers absorb the atmosphere after the long-overdue Euro triumph.
The former Scotland Under-21 international skipper was chosen ahead of on-loan Liverpool player Nat Phillips who had toiled in the 2-1 loss to Kilmarnock at Rugby Park at the weekend.
Cameron Carter-Vickers, who has missed the last two outings with a tight hamstring, is due to make his return against Hearts at Parkhead on Saturday.
Rodgers can now choose among the USA World Cup centre-back, Welsh, Liam Scales and Gustaf Lagerbielke, the matchwinner against the Rotterdam side with a stoppage-time header.
Maik Nawrocki is also a contender while Phillips cannot be overlooked although there are now massive question marks over his stay in the east end of Glasgow with his temporary deal due to expire next month.
HOOPY DAZE No.1…Luis Palma screams with joy after his penalty-kick strike.
Welsh was replaced by Lagerbielke in the 75th minute and was overjoyed to see his replacement head in the clincher from a sublime cross from the eye-catching Matt O’Riley.
The comeback Bhoys said: “Gus has come on and been excellent. Me and him and Big Mike [Maik Nawrocki] have all been training most days and they train like animals every day.
“Gus has got his reward and so have I coming into the team to play in the Champions League.
“He’s a great guy and a good footballer and he works hard every day. He’s a very good defender, very good on the ball and I’m delighted for him. It’s tough to come into a new environment when you are maybe not getting the game time you want.
“But it is what it is. At a club like Celtic there’s competition and when you get that jersey you have to try and keep it.”
Discussing his shock return to the top side, Welsh, speaking to The Herald, continued: “It was yesterday just before training the manager told me I was in the team. And that was it. The gaffer puts trust in his players.
“I’m part of the squad and when called upon I’ll always give my best for the club.
HOOPY DAZE No.2…Gustaf Lagerbielke celebrates his late winner.
“When I found out the manager was coming back in the summer I was really excited because I trained with him when I was younger. I was too young to play at the time, but I was really excited he was coming back. It was almost like a fresh start for me this season.
“When I got the injury it was really unfortunate because I was looking to play. But I’m back now and fully fit and ready to go for the rest of the season.”
The 23-year-old back-four operator added: “It’s always a good night when you’re playing in the Champions League at Celtic Park. It’s a special night even though in terms of qualification the game didn’t mean anything.
“Personally and for the team, it meant a whole lot to go out there and put on a good performance in front of the fans. They pay a lot of money to come and watch us play in the Champions League and it’s about giving something back to them with our performances.
“Thankfully, we have won our game here for the first time in 10 years. To give them a special night is all we can do.”