How Liam Scales proved his doubters wrong to become one of Celtic’s best defenders

Liam Scales’ rise this season has been completely unprecedented, but his performances in recent weeks have proven that it wasn’t just a purple patch and that he really has come on leaps and bounds under Brendan Rodgers.

The Irishman has consistently stepped up time and time again, grabbing every opportunity that has been thrown his way and running with it, and he wasn’t even expected to make any appearances for the team this season.

If it wasn’t for an injury crisis that had plagued the club in the first few weeks of the season, then we may not have seen this revitalised version of Liam Scales. With Cameron Carter-Vickers, Maik Nawrocki, Stephen Welsh, Yuki Kobayashi and Nat Phillips all unavailable at the start of the campaign, it was a blessing in disguise as Scales has developed into one of, if not the, best defenders at the club on current form, and here is why.

Playing to his strengths

Scales had been played in a variety of different roles across the line of defence in his time in Scotland, but he was never deployed in his strongest position until this season.

He was played initially as a left-back in his first-few appearances for Celtic, which brought with it mixed results, but his lack of pace made it clear that the full-back position wasn’t the ideal role for him.

At Aberdeen, he played in his more natural centre-back position on the left-hand side of a back three, which once again produced mixed results.

With his unexpected reintroduction to the fold at Celtic, however, Scales has been given an opportunity by Brendan Rodgers to finally focus on playing to his strengths. His diagonal passing has helped progress the team forward, especially against weaker opposition in the Scottish Premiership, which has benefitted the Irishman massively and has led to him becoming far more comfortable in the Celtic team.


One-on-one defending

Scales has been astute defensively this season, especially in the big games where the team’s backs have been against the wall. His display at Ibrox was a gutsy performance which earned him Sky Sports’ Player of the Match award. He has only been improving following that performance, constantly standing up to some of the best attackers in the country and sweeping up the danger whenever called upon.

His success in aerial duels has also been a standout quality in his game, especially against domestic sides who are looking to capitalise on set-piece situations.

Consistently stepping up

The final key to Scales’ success this season has been his performances in European competitions. After a dodgy display against Bodo/Glimt in the Europa Conference League back in 2022, many Celtic fans would have been watching the TV through their fingers when Scales lined up for Celtic’s trip to Rotterdam in the Champions League.

Against all the odds, however, Scales has been proving himself at the highest level this season, not letting the bright lights of Europe’s premier competition phase him, with a starring display against Atletico Madrid at home being the pick of the bunch.

This has been a season of silencing the doubters for Liam Scales, and with the critics well and truly silenced, he is now looking to establish himself as one of the most important players in this Celtic team.


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