BEAMING Neil Lennon praised Celtic kids Stephen Welsh and David Turnbull for their roles in the 2-1 victory over Motherwell at Parkhead yesterday.

The 19-year-old defender powered in the opener with an unstoppable header inside two minutes after yet another immaculate set-play from the Scotland Under-21 international who swung in an inviting right-wing corner-kick.

It set up the Hoops for three points with Odsonne Edouard firing in the second shortly after the turnaround. In the end, the team were asked to hang on grimly following a lucky deflected effort from Allan Campbell bamboozled Scott Bain in the 66th minute.

Lennon, speaking to Scotland on Sunday, said: “Stephen was strong and very calm. That’s two very good performances from him. He has been on the periphery of the squad for two or three years and he has never let us down. He’s a model pro.

“He’s a great professional and he’s taken his chance very well, so he deserves all the plaudits.

SETPLAY SORCEROR…David Turnbull has become Celtic’s deadball specialist.

“It was a great header for his goal, but the delivery from David Turnbull is superb. It’s a facet of our game that has improved with David – Scott Brown’s goal on Tuesday, Mohamed Elyounoussi’s a few weeks ago at Livingston. It was another great delivery and you know when it leaves his foot that any contact at all and it could be a goal.

“That’s a real asset he’s brought to the squad.”

Welsh has answered the SOS to bolster the middle of the rearguard that has been a problem area this season. It looked as though Christopher Jullien had brought stability back to the position, but his collision with a post in the 3-0 win over Dundee United just before the turn of the year is likely to keep the Frenchman out for the remainder of the season.

Shane Duffy has failed to convince since his £2million loan arrival from Brighton while Nir Bitton hasn’t looked comfortable as an out-and-out defender.

Welsh teamed up with Kristoffer Ajer for the first time in the 4-0 victory over Kilmarnock at Rugby Park on Tuesday and Lennon is likely to give the double-act the green light for the match against St Mirren in Paisley on Wednesday.

The Hoops boss added: “There’s nothing to change my thinking at the minute with that partnership.”


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