Why Celtic must take inspiration from Liel Abada against Midtjylland after mortifying friendly defeat

Keep cringing and carry on.

Celtic's Liel Abada (left) competes with Manuel Lanzini during a friendly match against West Ham.

That seemed to be the message from the Celtic camp following the 6-2 horsing by West Ham; a toe-curling experience that cannot be allowed to get in the way of Ange Postecoglou’s team saddling up properly for Wednesday’s monumental Champions League qualifier.

The evisceration in this friendly of Celtic’s young defence – principally by two-goal Michail Antonio – was what the Australian would have been desperate to avoid. A mortifying outcome ahead of the same backline being tasked with doing enough in Midtjylland on Wednesday to help the club into the third qualifying round. As David Turnbull essentially acknowledged the other day, the comfort to be drawn is that, what proved a lumped Midtylland last week, do not possess the quality apparent in David Moyes’ sixth-place England Premier League finishers.

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Indeed, Postecoglou could point to the fact that Celtic – not at any stage – seemed as sieve-like defensively in their first leg Champions League qualifier 1-1 draw draw last week with the Danes. An encounter in which 18-year-old debutant Dane Murray – thrown on when Nir Bitton was red-carded after 44 minutes – and 21-year-old Stephen Welsh had their first competitive minutes together, flanked by 22-year-old right-back Anthony Ralston and 23-year-old Greg Taylor.

In truth, Postecoglou won’t expect to be relying on any one of these four players deep into this season. However, he needs them to step up in Denmark, where a win would mean the very least they could obtain from this European qualifying phase of football was the acceptable outcome of Europa League group stage football.

Left-back Greg Taylor accepts he is the senior member of this quartet, and that he must provide leadership. Yet, he also recognises that with one of the few bright spot from Saturday being the vibrant display of Liel Abada – the 19-year-old winger Celtic paid Maccabi Petah Tikva £3.4million to acquire earlier this month – inexperience and tender years cannot be used as reason to come up short in Celtic’s time of need. A situation created by a tardiness in the market that pre-dates Postecoglou’s arrival a month ago.

“You can’t just accept it,” he said of West Ham’s battering of the Parkhead men. “Certainly not at a club this size. It’s not something you can accept and we don’t, so, the hope is we’ll improve come Wednesday. It is a game we simply have to win.

“I’m one of the older ones at the moment and one of the bigger voices and it’s important all of us try to help. Age is just a number. It’s about everyone playing a part and getting us the result. It’s about taking opportunities when they come.

"Debuts for young lads or for anyone can be more difficult to come about when you are winning every week and the team is settled. These opportunities don’t arise as much, so it’s about taking them when you get them. There’s nothing different to say to anyone younger. As soon as you are out there, everyone's the same. For example, Liel has come into the club, he’s 19 years of age and he looks fearless. He’s positive and that again shows what I said about age just being a number.”

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