Carter Vickers had a vocal Spurs fan in Pochettino as Celtic hero backs up early hype to stand tall in Glasgow

Steven Pressley reckons Cameron Carter-Vickers has shown the growth at Celtic to prove size doesn’t matter.

The former Parkhead defender was instantly taken by the qualities of the American international when he set eyes upon him as a Tottenham teenager. Pressley had no doubts about Carter-Vickers’ talents to forge a successful career. However, in terms of England’s highest-level, concerns around the centre-back centered only on a lack of height.

Pressley, though, says the Hoops centre-back’s impressive work and development has now made that supposed issue a complete non-starter. Positional sense, reading of the game and use of the body has elevated Brendan Rodgers’ throwback stopper to the top of the class in Scotland. Pressley, who admits he had to learn similar traits from elite-Maurice Malpas during his early days at Dundee United, explained: “I remember watching Carter-Vickers for Tottenham against Manchester United when he was 18. It was the first time I had set eyes on him and I really liked him.

"I remember being at the game and speaking to someone about him and they said: Mauricio Pochettino really likes him. But, looking at him, my one concern about him in terms of English football was size. That’s the one thing because there are bigger, athletic players down there than there are in Scotland.

“However, I feel his game has developed to the point where he can use his experience and body extremely well in duels. I don’t think that size aspect is such a problem for him to play at the top level now. Early in your career as a centre back, when you don’t have that experience, it can affect you. But, once you understand and learn the game, then the size can be countered.”

Pressley says the excellence Carter-Vickers has shown since moving north almost three years ago will have also now dispelled any lingering southern doubts.

He added: “Nobody in England had doubts over his mentality, desire or ability. The size issue was also a concern. But he’s now countered that and has grown a lot as a player at Celtic. He’s playing every week, he’s developed and done very well. He does the basics very well and people forget about that sometimes.

“When I look at football, anticipation is such a key factor in a really great factor. Carter-Vickers is a throwback. He anticipates things very well. In the academies now, the game is so pure and we sometimes don’t develop players who anticipate and smell danger. Carter-Vickers does that very well. He has been exposed to football and has developed in so many aspects. I want young defenders to be left to figure things out and learn to defend one verus one. That’s where growth comes from.”

After his successful loan season for Ange Postecoglou, Celtic paid out £6 million to Spurs to make the deal permanent.

Pressley said: “Celtic did well to get him on a long-term contract because I am sure there are plenty of suitors out there for him.

“When you look around, there aren’t lots of top centre backs and that was good business for Celtic.”

Carter-Vickers progressed for the first term and his rock-like partnership with Carl Starfelt laid the platform for a Treble win last season under the Aussie. With Rodgers now at the helm, the United States star has had to be the guiding light for less-experienced colleagues since the departure of the Swede.

Liam Scales, Maik Nawrocki, Gustaf Lagerbielke and Stephen Welsh have all had opportunities this season in the Parkhead backline.

Pressley says Carter-Vickers will lead them as he explained: “He will also help the other Celtic defenders develop, without a doubt.

“You learn from having good partners when you are a young defender. Maurice Malpas was a huge help for me at Dundee United.

“I learned so much from him and I was lucky in that respect. I was never an elite player, but I did learn from elite players like Maurice and that helped me.

“I learned how to use my body, how to defend and like Carter-Vickers, counter the fact that I wasn’t the biggest centre half.”

Rodgers is going to need his top centre-back at peak form in the coming month as Celtic chase a Double.

With just two clean sheets in their last 11 matches, the champions seek solidity in their bid to retain the title and Scottish Cup.

Carter-Vickers has missed matches this term due to injury issues, but dominant displays from him could be pivotal in the final five games of the season.

Hearts, another of Pressley’s former clubs, go to Glasgow’s East End tomorrow, and he does not understate the American’s value to Celtic.

Speaking to promote Premier Sports' live coverage of the Scottish Cup, he said: “People love to talk about the tactical element of football but in all my time it’s never changed. Players. Players make great managers.

“There is no hiding the fact that if it was all about the coach, why do the great managers spend the most money to get the best players? Alex Smith used to say to me: 'Players son, players. Of course you need a level of tactical knowledge, but great players make great coaches.'

"Carter-Vickers was out of the Celtic team and it’s not rocket science to see that their form was affected. Now he’s back in the team and he is a hugely important player for Celtic.”