That much was made clear by manager Ange Postecoglou when asked about keeping a squad of players happy. At a club with such demands on a daily and weekly basis, opportunities aren’t handed out like leaflets. They have to be earned.
“They are at the Celtic Football Club,” the Australian said. “If that is not happiness for them I don’t know what is, they can find it somewhere else.
“It’s not my job to keep them happy, it’s my job to make sure I get the best out of them and give them every opportunity, and they will all get opportunities, they know that.
“If you want to play at a big club and this is a big club, the reality of the situation is that part of that is you have competition for places because it keeps you at your best. This group of players understands that, they work hard every day.”
One player is showing he understands that more than most.
‘Very important’ opportunity
Opportunity arose following Carl Starfelt’s injury which has kept him out of much of pre-season. And going by Welsh’s performance in the Swede’s absence, he is determined to make the most of the situation alongside Cameron Carter-Vickers.
“Very important, they are all important,” Postecoglou said of Welsh’s performance. “In pre-season we knew Carl was going to be out for a major part of it and Moritz [Jenz] came in very late.
“Welshy and Cam have had to carry the load and it was important that they both had a strong pre-season and were coming in in good form.
“Welshy has done well. Again I thought him and Cam did what they had to do.”
The 22-year-old was on the score sheet, heading in Matt O’Riley’s corner within three minutes, but more than that it was his all-round performance, with and without the ball.
He looked a more robust defender, aggressive with his positioning, often stepping into the Dons half and confident at doing so. No player won more tackles than him.
As ever with a Celtic player in such a situation, what they do with the ball is also important.
The team’s focus was down the left-hand side with 45 per cent of their attacks, compared to 27 per cent on the right and 27 per cent through the middle.
No player saw the ball more than Welsh with the centre-back completing 108 passes but it wasn’t about playing safe or knocking it sideways. In the first minute he showed his ambition to progress the game with a clipped ball over the Aberdeen defence which Daizen Maeda couldn’t quite bring under control. Within the opening ten minutes, he found O’Riley between the lines on the left on three occasions.
Welsh finished with the most passes to the final third and most progressive runs across the Premiership weekend.
Continued influence for Celtic, both defensively and in possession, may see Welsh take an opportunity to become a mainstay.