YOU would have got long odds at the start of the season on Celtic supporters fretting about the splintering of the centre-back partnership between Carl Starfelt and Cameron Carter-Vickers, with some shaky early displays – particularly in Europe – hardly hinting at the defensive solidity that was to come.

As both players settled at the club though, and settled into playing alongside one another, they have both played a key role in delivering the Scottish Premiership title to the club, with Celtic boasting the meanest defence in the league. They head to Tannadice tonight having conceded just 21 goals in 36 games.

But these final two league matches of the season may indeed be the last occasions that the Celtic support see that partnership in action. The club are keen to land loan signing Carter-Vickers on a permanent transfer from Tottenham Hotspur, but an agreement has yet to be reached between Celtic and the player’s representatives.

Starfelt says it isn’t his place to tell his good friend where his future should lie, but he certainly hopes he decides to remain in Glasgow so that their fruitful partnership might further prosper.

“It’s been very good,” Starfelt said.

“He is a very good player and easy to play with. But also, our relationship is very good, the chemistry is very good.

“We have become friends outside the pitch as well and we can speak freely about situations. So that helps and, yeah, we have an understanding about each other and each other’s games and what we want and what we need from each other. It has been good.

“Of course I would like to play with him [next season] because he is a very good player. But we will wait and see. I know nothing more than you guys.

“I don’t think it’s up to me to persuade him. We will wait and see, it’s not up to me whether he stays or not.”

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou has said that the prospect of Champions League football next season can be a major carrot in attracting talent to the club, and that may well factor in Carter-Vickers’ decision-making process over the coming weeks.

Starfelt agrees that it is a massively exciting prospect for everyone involved in the club, and that the taste they got of European football this term has whetted their appetite for a bite at the continent's big one.

“That’s huge obviously,” he said.

“The Champions League I would say is club-wise one of the biggest things you can do.

“I think it would be massive for all the players and massive for the club and the fans. Everyone would look forward to it so much.

“We’re not thinking too much now about what could have been in Europe this year. We learned a lot from playing in these games and although not everything was perfect, we went out there to play our football 100 per cent.

“What we know is that it requires a little bit more in Europe. But if we do that then we can also see that it works.

“So the team learned a lot from being in Europe this year and hopefully we can take that into the Champions League next year.”

Starfelt is enjoying his growing reputation and popularity at Celtic after a somewhat difficult start to life at the club, and he is also aware of how his success will be going down at home in Sweden, where interest in Celtic’s fortunes is high due to the illustrious compatriots that went before him.

“Of course, when you come to a club like Celtic you want to win titles, you want to play in Europe and perform well there,” he said. “That’s one of the reasons I chose Celtic in the first place because it’s a great club for doing that.

“The Swedish guys are obviously an inspiration. It would be good to do these things regardless but Celtic has a great reputation in Sweden and it makes it a little bit more fun maybe.”

Starfelt and Celtic are certainly now having fun, but it wasn’t always so this term, with the early teething problems in defence mirrored across the team as they took their fledgling, faltering steps in the league campaign.

A point at Tannadice tonight though and it will be full-steam ahead for the title party, and will mark their 31st consecutive league game without defeat, something many didn’t think possible when they lost three of their opening six matches.

“I don’t think we ever thought that far ahead, to be honest,” said Starfelt.

“We had a big belief in our football and the manager was very clear from the first moment he came in that he would persuade us to play in this style and he was very clear how he wanted to do it.

“Consequently, I think we all believed that our way of playing was the way forward and that’s what helped – we wouldn’t have been able to do this if we hadn’t believed in our football.

“It’s going to be a very big game for many of our players, including myself. It’s the chance for me to win my very first league title so that makes it a huge day for me. Hopefully, we can secure it.

“I know we’ll have a lot of Celtic fans there so it would be great for them, the players and the staff if we can get this done.”