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John Hartson defends Carl Starfelt, after recently criticising Celtic defender

John Hartson has told Go Radio that Carl Starfelt needs time to find his best form at Celtic – having struggled in his opening appearances for the club. A £4million signing from Rubin Kazan, Starfelt has made mistakes. Hartson hammered him recently, but is now urging critics to give Starfelt more time.

The 26-year-old has now clocked up five appearances for Celtic since penning a deal until the summer of 2025 at Parkhead. But the Sweden international has only helped Celtic keep two clean sheets in those five Hoops games. He has struggled twice against Hearts, and at Jablonec.

In his first league game, Starfelt was out of position as Gary Mackay-Steven scored. He dived in as Jablonec got a second in the Czech Republic and then conceded a penalty on Sunday as Hearts lost 3-2 to Celtic. Hartson was very critical following his mistake away from home against Jablonec.

He said, earlier this month: “It is Sunday League stuff. Celtic won’t win anything defending like that. Starfelt for the second goal. You can’t just dive in last minute and let the player cut inside. When I do punditry I’m not normally overly critical, but I can’t accept that defending.”

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What has Hartson said about Celtic signing Starfelt?

But speaking on Go Radio this week, Hartson believes Starfelt deserves more time to settle at Celtic. He reckons that a lack of a permanent partner at centre-back, and that he is probably not living in his own house, means Starfelt deserves time at Celtic Park.

“He cost £4million from Rubin Kazan, 26, Sweden international – on paper you’re getting a good player,” Hartson said. “But coming to Celtic, you have to eradicate any mistakes. It is still very early on, he’s played three or four games. He’s played with different centre-backs – Nir Bitton, Stephen Welsh.

“He has been thrown in, he probably hasn’t found a house yet – he’s probably still living in a hotel. All these things, you have to put into perspective – you don’t have a lot of time. The knives are out early. With all due respect, you’ve got to give players time it get it right at Celtic.”

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Does Starfelt have quality Celtic need, amid Hartson defence?

In the 187 club appearances Starfelt played before he joined Celtic, 97 of them – more than half – came in Iceland. The other 90 have come in Russia and Sweden. He does have Sweden caps but only a few and is well down the pecking order. So, have Celtic signed a player that is good enough?

£4million would suggest so but his CV is hardly impressive. Starfelt needs to improve and Ange Postecoglou has got to get the absolute maximum out of Starfelt. But with Welsh impressing and Christopher Jullien returning, the chances are that Starfelt will not be a starter.

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