STEPHEN Welsh, the young centre half who was drafted into a makeshift Celtic side for the Premiership game against Hibernian on Monday night after 16 players and staff were forced to self-isolate, has admitted that he feared he would have to join his club mates in quarantine.

Welsh helped the Scottish champions, who had taken the lead late on through a David Turnbull free-kick, to repel their Edinburgh rivals until injury-time when Kevin Nisbet netted an equaliser for the visitors.

The outcome of the match, which left the Glasgow club 21 points behind their city rivals Rangers in the top flight table, was difficult for the 20-year-old defender to take.

But he had been delighted to be involved in the first team again – especially as he was concerned he would have to spend a spell out of action as a result of Christopher Jullien’s positive coronavirus test on Sunday.

“Probably for everyone there was a bit of panic because anyone can get it these days,” he said. “So, you’re just hoping you don’t get the phone call that tells you that you’re a positive. I was happy I wasn’t one of the guys involved so I could go and play.

“I was told I was playing earlier in the day. It all happened very quick. Everything was normal, but then we found out about the positive case and everything happened really quickly.

“Once you find out you’re playing nothing else really matters. When the team comes together you need to get on with it. I thought we did that pretty well.”

Welsh, who featured against Rangers, AC Milan and Lille last year, admitted he was stunned when Jullien tested positive for Covid-19 and 13 players and three members of the coaching team, including manager Neil Lennon, were asked to self-isolate.

“You never think it’s going to be you,” he said. “So when it happens it is a bit of a shock. We have our own bubble. This is the first time since June, July, when we started testing, that someone’s picked up a positive case within the club. So, I think we’re going to follow all the protocols from now on until the end of the season.”

Celtic have been widely criticised for flying to Dubai for a warm-weather training break last week as Covid-19 infection rates across Scotland rose as a result of a new strain of the virus - despite receiving approval for the trip from Holyrood.

SFA chief executive Ian Maxwell has confirmed the governing body’s disciplinary department is currently investigating whether any guidelines were breached by players during their time in the United Arab Emirates.

But Welsh stressed the time in the Middle East had been beneficial for the players. “I thought the Dubai trip was a hard-working trip,” he said. “The training was excellent, four days of really tough training. We got to work on a lot of things.

“In the past two years it’s worked perfectly, we’ve kicked on from January the past few years. But we’ve come back and we’ve had all the bad news about Chris. Everyone hopes he recovers well, that it’s not too serious for him.”

Welsh looks set to feature in the back-to-back league meetings with on-form Livingston at Parkhead on Saturday and the Tony Macaroni Arena a week today and is hopeful he can help Celtic get back to winning ways.

“The boys who are out are the big players for the team,” he said. “The team was thrown together within 24 to 48 hours, so I think the spirit was really good. I thought we were really good, but it’s always disappointing not winning, especially when you are 1-0 up.

“We’re disappointed we’ve dropped points against Hibs and now we’re just looking at the Livingston games. They are massive for us again. All we can do now is win as many games in a row. There are so many players fighting for positions in this team. So, if selected, then perfect.

“This club is made for winning. The pressure’s always on here to get wins. Every single game you have to win and if you don’t win you get criticised, fair enough. We need to look at Saturday now and go and win the game, find a way to do it.”