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Ange Postecoglou hails arrival of experienced defenders as Celtic begin campaign

Celtic v Midtjylland – UEFA Champions League – Second Qualifying Round – First Leg – Celtic Park
(Image credit: Jeff Holmes)

Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou feels his side are set for a major boost with the arrival of much-needed experience.

A team with a back-four with an average age of 21 started in Wednesday’s Champions League exit against Midtjylland, and the introduction of 19-year-old left-back Adam Montgomery further brought the mean down in extra time.

Sweden centre-back Carl Starfelt is set to supplement the defence when Celtic begin their cinch Premiership campaign against Hearts at Tynecastle on Saturday night, and fellow new arrival Kyogo Furuhashi might even make an unlikely appearance.

On the Japan forward, Postecoglou said: “He is doing his quarantine down in London but is out on early release and we have sent one of our guys down to help him, so he is doing individual sessions and this is his last day.

“The good thing about Kyogo is he is in mid-season, so apart from the days in quarantine and travel he should be in good condition.

“I am just waiting to hear an update in terms of eligibility, but if not (Saturday) then he will definitely be available for Thursday (against Jablonec in the Europa League).”

He added: “I think it’s been a bit unfair the pressure I have exposed some of our younger defenders to so far, and they have done awfully well.

“Callum McGregor has done an unbelievable job as a leader in these first few games. He has stood up both in attitude, performance, everything.

“But he needs help, he needs some other experienced heads, and it’s good to get Carl here, I think it’s a boost for the whole squad.

“Even to get Nir Bitton back (from suspension) also helps because when you are starting off in these challenging circumstances, you rely on the experienced ones to be able to cope with whatever pressures are around.”

Postecoglou is still looking to get some major new signings done after a slow start to their transfer business undermined Celtic’s Champions League campaign.

The Australian has made his feelings clear on the subject but stressed chief executive Dom McKay was working hard to supply him with reinforcements.

“I think we have made progress and I am still pushing it at my end to make sure we try and get them in as quickly as possible because, as we know, it’s not just about getting them to sign and agree, there’s a whole range of other things we need to navigate,” he said.

“I am pushing as hard as I can and everyone at the club, including Dom, is doing everything they can to make sure we conclude some deals in the next short period.

“We still have a little way to go. If we get two or three key ones then we can focus on being a bit more precise and not have to bring in players who are going to add to us straight away but maybe ones we can develop.”

Postecoglou declined to talk about specific targets after Tottenham goalkeeper Joe Hart was linked with a move to Parkhead.

“We have three goalkeepers who all played significant parts last year,” he added. “We need to get into a position where one of them is settled as a number one because you don’t want to be changing your goalkeeper too often.

“If I think we can improve in that position then that’s an area we will look at but there’s a number of priorities in terms of positions.

“We still need two or three significant additions and which positions will depend on which players are available.”

Despite the delay in forming his desired squad, Postecoglou will not hold back on implementing his desired style.

“It’s just not my nature,” the former Australia head coach said. “I don’t want to wait. I have just got to get the team playing the way I want them to play.

“I would rather put the principles in place, this is how we want to play football, and as the players come in, we will keep growing from that rather than go for any short-term measure that might get us over the line. It’s just not the way I ride.

“I’ve got no doubt we will improve and grow into the season but that doesn’t mean we are going to start slowly or try to navigate our way through the early parts.”