Carl Starfelt makes likely farewell Celtic appearance in opening day SPL win

Manager Brendan Rodgers expects a deal for the Sweden defender to go through early next week.

Gavin McCafferty
Saturday 05 August 2023 16:08 BST
Carl Starfelt looks set leave Celtic (Steve Welsh/PA)
Carl Starfelt looks set leave Celtic (Steve Welsh/PA) (PA Wire)

Carl Starfelt was handed what Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers feels will be a farewell appearance in a 4-2 cinch Premiership opening win over Ross County.

Starfelt started on the bench with Maik Nawrocki making his debut in central defence before the Swede came on for the final quarter.

The centre-half’s partner, Jacynta Galabadaarachchi, left Celtic for Sporting Lisbon this summer and Starfelt looks set to follow her out of Glasgow after two years at the club.

Rodgers said: “I wanted to put Carl Starfelt on because it might be his last game here. He has been a great servant to the club. There is interest in him and he would like to take up that possibility. We will resolve that as quick as we can.

“The clubs are in communication so I am sure that will go through at some point early next week, if not before.

“He probably felt it was the time to move on. There are certain conditions there that has made him think he will be going to one of the top leagues, and economically it’s hard for us to compete on that side, and obviously his partner is no longer here and has moved on.

“But I have to say, total professional, first class and if it didn’t go through, I know I can rely on him, but I think it probably will.

“We would need to get another centre-half. My idea is to get four centre-halves who are competitive.”

David Turnbull netted twice in the season opener after being handed his first Premiership start in nine months. The midfielder opened the scoring from the spot and netted from Matt O’Riley’s cross after Kyogo Furuhashi had notched his first goal of the season.

Rodgers said of the former Motherwell player: “He’s a talent. I remember seeing him when I was first up here and I liked his game and he maybe just hasn’t quite hit the heights of what his talent is.

“I spoke to him in pre-season and told him it would be a shame if you don’t achieve what you can do at a club like this, because you have the talent, but you have to be a working talent, and you have to be able to run and be aggressive in your game. If you can do that, then your qualities will come through.

“He’s a player I really like. I love his care with the ball, his passing, and his efficiency. He gets in the box, he gets goals, and he maybe could have had a hat-trick.”

The 24-year-old has entered the final season of his contract after a £3.25million move from Fir Park in 2020.

On the chances of a new deal, Rodgers said: “It’s a door that’s open for him. he maybe hasn’t played as much as he would like, but that’s his responsibility.

“I think he would like to be here but you have to consistently prove it.

“It was a clean slate over pre-season and he did very well with the ball and against the ball, which is important. You have to be able to play without the ball and he has demonstrated that.”

County manager Malky Mackay was frustrated his side could not take advantage of some early chances, which mostly fell for Simon Murray.

Mackay said: “I thought we started well and international teams will score goals against Celtic. They just have, Yokohama, Athletic (Bilbao). We get those chances in the first 15 minutes and should have scored. If it’s an international team, Celtic are 2-0 down.

“Our shape and system were good, our discipline were good, and we give away a stupid penalty. Then we don’t defend a cross in the last minute of the first half and next minute we are 3-0 down at half-time.”

County hit back through Jordan White before James Brown scored in stoppage-time via Starfelt’s deflection after O’Riley had netted Celtic’s fourth.

Mackay said: “I know at 3-0 here that can go on to become six or seven. My challenge for them at half-time was to be brave and go and score a goal and press high.

“Sometimes we were able to do it and sometimes we didn’t because we have some new players who aren’t quite there with the explanations I give them but I was really happy with how brave they were in the second half.”

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