CARL STARFELT made a Man of the Match return in Celtic’s 1-0 victory over Hearts at Parkhead last night.
The Swedish international central defender came back from the injury that kept him sidelined for five games and he put in an impressive performance in the heart of Ange Postecoglou’s rearguard.
Ironically, Starfelt, who had arrived at Parkhead only days beforehand, had a torrid debut against the Edinburgh outfit in his debut for the Hoops as they lost 2-1 at Tynecastle in the opening match of the Premiership campaign back in July.
SWEDE RETURNS…Carl Starfelt was a stand-out in his comeback against Hearts.
It was clear the centre-back was not match fit following his £4.2million arrival from Russian cracks Rubin Kazan and he struggled in a game where Postecoglou’s new signings were still getting to know each other after a summer of upheaval.
There were concerns when Starfelt went down with injury late in the second-half after the Greek-Australian had been forced to utilise all three substitutes with Anthony Ralston, Filipe Jota and Stephen Welsh limping off with a variety of injuries.
The home side faced the prospect of defending Kyogo Furuhashi’s 33rd-minute goal with only 10 players, but the Swede continued and battled on until the end with his team-mates earning a hard-fought three points.
Starfelt, speaking to Sky Sports News, said: “It was a tough game against a tough opponent. First-half, we played well and we got the first goal. In the end, we had to fight for it, but we did it.
“We had chances to score two or three, they also had some chances, but I’m really happy with the fighting spirit and I think we showed at the end that we fight for each other and we didn’t concede, so I’m happy.
FLAG HAPPY…Kyogo Furuhashi celebrates the winner.
“As a team, we need to play in different ways. We like to control that ball, we like to press high and have the ball in their half. But sometimes you also need to defend a 1-0 lead and I think we showed that we can do that.”
Starfelt could be joined in the heart of the defence by Cameron Carter-Vickers who missed the victory over the Edinburgh side through “personal issues” when they travel to Tannadice for the midday clash with Dundee United on Sunday.
Welsh, who has impressed in recent weeks, could be out through injury and may be joined on the sidelines by Ralston whose ankle knock is a concern for Postecoglou.
That could mean Josip Juranovic continuing in the right-back slot with Adam Montgomery taking over at No.3.