Celtic earn ‘Premier League’ comparison by Norwich City boss after pre-season clash as defender return date set

Dean Smith watched his Canaries side slip to a 2-0 defeat against the Scottish champions at Parkhead on Saturday.

<p>Norwich manager Dean Smith was full of praise for Celtic.  (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)</p>

Norwich manager Dean Smith was full of praise for Celtic. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

Norwich City manager Dean Smith labelled Celtic a “Premier League team in the making” after watching his side fall to a 2-0 defeat to the Scottish champions at Parkhead.

The Canaries, who were relegated from the top tier of English football last season, began their short pre-season tour of Scotland with a trip to Glasgow before facing Hibernian 24 hours later.

Goals from Daizen Maeda and David Turnbull in either half handed Ange Postecoglou’s side their final friendly victory ahead of kick-starting their Premiership title defence next Sunday.

Celtic's Daizen Maeda turns away after scoring the opener in the 2-0 friendly win over Norwich. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

Former Aston Villa boss Smith was full of praise for Celtic who approach the 2022/23 season as title favourites after netting two or more goals in all SIX pre-season matches this summer.

Speaking to the Norwich official website, Smith admitted: “It was a great game for us at this stage of pre-season.

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“Celtic are a very good technical team with lots of great movement, who made it really difficult for us at times. I thought we defended really well, although our use of the ball could be a little bit better.

“Neither goalkeeper was really worked that much, but the tempo that they played at meant our players were having to match that, even without the ball.

“Celtic are a good level team, you can see what they have been working on. They have good rotation and movement, full-backs coming inside and the wide players drift onto the outside and try to give overloads in different parts of the pitch. They have really good movement too.

“They are probably a Premier League team in the making. A real test because of the way they play, they have really good technicians of the ball and play at speed.”

Meanwhile, Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou hinted that injured centre-back Carl Starfelt could be ready to return to action for the club’s first away trip of new season against Ross County on August 6.

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The Swedish international has been sidelined with a hamstring injury since early June and was inititially expected to be unavailable for selection during the opening months of the campaign.

That led the club to delve into the loan market, with the arrival of Mortiz Jenz from Ligue 1 side Lorient last week.

Carl Starfelt was offered an escape from Russia when Celtic signed him last year.

However, Postecoglou is satisfied with the progress Starfelt has made over pre-season and intimated he is on course to return in the forseeable future.

He stated: “We’re hoping he’ll join in training at some point this week. He’s in the last stages and doing all the physical stuff away from the group.

“So knock on wood, he’s passed every stage and the handover to the football department should happen next week. That means that hopefully within a week or two he’s ready to go.”