ANGE POSTECOGLOU, as he is prone to mentioning now and again, is looking to build something at Celtic. There is no part of that plan, he contends, which could involve allowing the club’s best young players to slip from their grasp.

That’s why Stephen Welsh won’t be going anywhere else anytime soon, despite ongoing interest in him from Serie A outfit Udinese.

Postecoglou is a huge admirer of Scotland under-21 captain Welsh, who has made 19 appearances for Celtic so far this season, and he is set to play an important role in the first-team during the second half of the campaign too despite fierce competition for places at the heart of the defence.

“I haven’t really been involved in too much dialogue there,” Postecoglou said. “But I am not surprised that quite a few of our players are getting attention as we continue on this journey and continue to improve and hopefully have success.

“But Stephen Welsh is not going anywhere at the moment. I wouldn’t expect him to want to go anywhere because he is playing really well, he’s developing all the time. He is still a young player and there is more to come in his Celtic career.”

When asked if he had been impressed by the performances of Welsh this term, he added: “Well he’s playing, mate. He’s like all of them, when they’re playing then you know they have impressed me.

“He has played a lot of football in the first half of the season but he’s developing all the time. He’s still a young player.

“I have a lot of time for him. He works hard in training and he wants to improve and keep pushing to make sure he becomes the best possible player he can.”

There is no doubt that Postecoglou will feel his Celtic team are in a far stronger position now than they were when entering the January transfer window, with the early arrivals of Reo Hatate, Yosuke Ideguchi and Daizen Maeda meaning he can cast his mind forward to the longer term.

Part of that forward planning means thrashing out terms for permanent moves to Celtic for loan stars Jota and Cameron Carter-Vickers, but the Celtic manager remains sanguine about the process, simply being delighted to have Jota back in full training yesterday following his hamstring injury.

“We’ll work on that in the background but there has been no significant progress,” he said.

“The key thing for us is to get him back fit and well and playing good football like he was in the first half of the season.

“We just want to make sure he fulfils the promise that he showed in that six months. The other stuff will take care of itself.

“It’s great to see him back out there. He’s has a great start to his career here with the football club and it was obviously disappointing to miss him for a fair chunk of time. But he’s worked hard in rehab and has come back looking really good.

“He’s keen to get back involved himself and we’ll try that over the next couple of weeks at some point. But it’s great to have him back with the group.

“I’m prepared to be patient with all of them. There is no rush with these things. It’s got to be good for the player and good for the club.

“If everybody is happy then those types of things take care of themselves. There is no need to be anxious about it. Jota’s situation is the same with Cameron Carter-Vickers.”

While Celtic fans will be pleased to hear of Jota’s imminent return to action, they will have to be a little more patient when it comes to seeing Christopher Jullien back in the hoops.

The defender’s appearance in a closed-doors friendly win over St Mirren this week raised hopes that he could finally make his long-awaited return from a serious knee injury, but Postecoglou is being cautious with the Frenchman.

“His situation is obviously different from Jota’s in that the game he played on Wednesday was his first in 12 months,” he said.

“He’s working hard and we’re continuing to build him up so he’ll get an opportunity in the next few weeks.

“Then we’ll see how it goes.”

That too seems to be the philosophy that is being adopted for the remainder of the winter window, with Postecoglou spelling out that he is happy with his squad, and that no contingency would be made for the collapse of a move for Australian international Riley McGree.

Indeed, barring something miraculous happening, he doesn’t see any more business being done by the club this month, and he had a few pointed words for those who would speculate otherwise.

“It’s unlikely,” he said. “There are a lot of names being bandied around which are just outright categorical lies.

“I haven’t spoken to any other player, I haven’t targeted any other player. Apart from the ones we have signed I had a discussion with Riley because I knew him and I wanted to get the lie of the land there.

“Aside from that I haven’t spoken to any other players, we haven’t made any other offers or identified any other targets. I don’t expect us to do any more business in this window unless something happens within the current squad that means we need to supplement or something comes along that is extraordinary.

“But if you hear a name over the next few days that has been linked with me, or it’s said that I’ve spoken to them or identified them, I can assure you that it’s someone’s imagination or someone’s agent looking to get a better deal for their player somewhere else.”