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'Sunday League': Hartson tears into new Celtic player

John Hartson did not hold back on BBC Sportscene’s coverage of Celtic’s 4-2 win over Jablonec, when criticising Carl Starfelt. The Hoops secured a favourable scoreline but should have won by a bigger margin. Celtic icon Hartson hammered Starfelt, labelling Celtic’s defending as “Sunday League”.

It has been a near-nightmare start for Starfelt at Celtic. Joining the club from Russian side Rubin Kazan last week, the Sweden international was at fault in his debut against Hearts. The defender made a mistake in the build up to Gary Mackay-Steven’s opener. He hardly improved on Wednesday.

Diving in to stop Jablonec from scoring, he was easily turned before Joe Hart was chipped. While the goal is unlikely to have a bearing on the end result, it was a poor bit of defending. Starfelt is now already under enormous pressure – and Hartson has laid plenty of criticism at his door.

“It is Sunday League stuff. Celtic won’t win anything defending like that. Starfelt for the second goal – I know he is early at the club. 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,” Hartson said.

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Why did Starfelt get the nod ahead of Celtic talent Welsh – amid Hartson comments?

Perhaps the better question should be, why does Nir Bitton continue to start at centre-back despite naturally being a midfielder? Welsh has probably been Celtic’s best central defender, in their opening few games. But he was out of the side against Hearts, and on the bench against Jablonec.

Celtic return to Parkhead on Sunday and Ange Postecoglou has a decision to make at centre-back. With Christopher Jullien still injured, does he bring Welsh back into the fold? Does he persevere with Starfelt? If TBR was in charge, Welsh would partner Starfelt – and hope for a clean sheet.

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