In his second season at Celtic, arguably no player has improved quite as much as Kelvin Wilson. It’s been “fantastic”, he says, because he has been injury free – that’s often how the professionals judge these things.
The 27-year-old defender has turned in a string of good performances throughout the season, so much so that a possible summons to the England squad has been mooted.
Wilson’s reaction to being mentioned as England material by his manager Neil Lennon was summed up by the man himself in one word.
“Shocked,” said Wilson, with genuine humility. He has a colleague to emulate – goalkeeper Fraser Forster – if he is to be called up by Roy Hodgson who, according to Lennon, is very aware of Wilson.
Lennon said: “Hodgson was at the Juventus game at home and he was really impressed with his performance, and I thought he was even better in Turin.”
Wilson commented: “It’s nice to be mentioned but, first and foremost is here. Fraser Forster has been rewarded for his performances but it’s not the end of the world if it doesn’t happen. Playing for England never crossed my mind when I was young. When I look at the talent England have I’m not the type to sit and say: ‘I’m better than him and better than him’. I’m not really like that. I watch Match of the Day and see the good central defenders. If it happens for me then it happens.”
Wilson’s displays in the Champions League were crucial for himself and his club and, for someone who was with Nottingham Forest in the Championship two seasons ago, the step up to playing in the last 16 of the world’s biggest club tournament was a challenge which he feels he and his team-mates met with honour.
“I’ve never played at a higher standard than the Champions League,” said Wilson. “Everyone wants to test himself on that stage. I’ve watched these games over the years and it was nice to be involved and have a go at it.
“I enjoyed it. I thought I did OK. I don’t any think player embarrassed themselves. We stood up to our jobs and it was very good to get to the last 16, [it] proved we coped.”
Wilson admits honestly that he has made mistakes. He said: “It’s individual mistakes and we’ve all had our faults for quite a few goals.
“We can stop it by putting a foot through the ball and not letting it bounce like I did in the last game. I’m 27 and I know it was my fault. If I don’t know the opening goal against Aberdeen was my fault, then I shouldn’t be playing football.”
He also knows that he and the Celtic defence face “in-form” attackers when they play St Mirren this afternoon.
“Steven Thompson is a good player,” said Wilson. “A strong boy. That’s his game, isn’t it? He’s a target man. He won’t get the ball and do a trick. He recognises what his game is and he knows how to play it. It doesn’t surprise me that he took the League Cup Final by the scruff of the neck.”
Wilson versus Thompson could be a key battle in today’s game at St Mirren Park. It won’t determine the outcome, but could go a long way towards doing so.