Dane Murray, the 18-year-old Celtic academy defender, made his entrance into the world just as the Parkhead side were enjoying a renaissance on a different kind of stage.

Back in June 2003 Celtic were coming to terms with a season that yielded nothing in the way of silverware but which offered plenty. Martin O’Neill will not be the only former Celt who has never watched a rerun of the full UEFA Cup final in Seville but the thrills of that journey seemed to suggest a return of Celtic competing on a European frontier.

Ironically, that season had started with bitter disappointment against Basel – Hakin Yakin providing today’s blast from the past – as the Swiss side nicked the Hoops' Champions League spot.

This stage of the season has always felt particularly precarious for Celtic and their European ambitions but in recent campaigns, there has been a pervasive feeling that a lack of preparation leaves them on the back foot before a ball has been kicked.

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Yet, of the dilemmas that Ange Postecoglou would have anticipated at this stage of his Celtic career, there’s a fair chance he wouldn’t have foreseen sleepless nights about a youthful defensive pairing ahead of a fairly meaningless pre-season friendly.

Nir Bitton’s rush of blood to the head in the opening leg against FC Midtjylland, however, has made the Greek-Australian’s personnel choices heavily weighted against West Ham for tomorrow’s friendly at Celtic Park. On the one hand, there is the temptation to stick with Stephen Welsh and his youthful academy sidekick, Murray.

The 18-year-old Murray was thrown into the fray as Bitton tipped the balance of the tie with his inexplicable stupidity. Under the circumstances, the teenager fared not too badly while Welsh, three years his senior, was fairly composed in the encounter.

Given the paucity of choices for Celtic, the likelihood is that both will be handed a starting jersey for the second leg of the tie this coming week.

So does Postecoglou give them much needed game time together to give them the briefest of opportunities to work together on a pitch or does he err on the side of caution?

The problem is that should either pick up an injury then there would be serious implications ahead of the second leg in Denmark.

New signing Osake Urhoghide, at 21, is another option for consideration. Added to the Champions League squad earlier this week Urhoghide is a possibility although his performance in last weekend’s pre-season friendly against Preston suggests he still needs time to bed in.

Carl Starfelt will offer further defensive scope in the coming weeks following his arrival but Covid quarantine issues mean that it could be a few weeks yet before there is any sight of him.

Little wonder that there has been more than a hint of frustration as Postecoglou looks to pick up the pieces from last season’s chaotic campaign.