Stephen Welsh must stay focused as part of an inexperienced Celtic defence against Midtylland according to Marc Rieper.

The Coatbridge star is set to be partnered by 18-year-old Dane Murray in a massive Champions League qualifier tonight.

The youthful pair were taught a painful lesson by West Ham United striker Michail Antonio during Celtic’s 6-2 defeat on Wednesday.

Ex-Hoops star Rieper believes they can learn from the same advice that he told Manchester United legend Rio Ferdinand when he was breaking through the ranks at the Hammers as a youngster.

Rieper said: “I remember when Rio came through at West Ham when he was about 17.

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“He had so much ability. He was incredible and you knew he was going to play at the very top level. But in the early days, Rio sometimes made life complicated for himself on the pitch.

“He had the talent to try things but it could put him into difficult situations.

Former Celtic defender Marc Rieper

“There is always a time and a place for that kind of stuff. We would say to Rio, ‘Just keep it simple . . . and then your ability will come through’.

“That would be my advice to the likes of Murray going into this game against Midtjylland. He is only 18 and he’s playing for Celtic. He clearly has talent for the manager to trust him.

“It’s the same for Welsh. He is 21 and that is not old for a central defender.

“But this is a different level. It’s not youth football — it’s a top European competition.

“When Celtic are at home against one of the smaller teams in Scotland, you can try things. You can maybe play risky passes or run out from the back, because there is less chance of being punished.

“For Celtic against Midtjylland, there is a lot on the line and Murray and Welsh must stay focused.”

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