Former Scotland manager Alex McLeish believes that Neil Lennon will start goalkeeper Vasilis Barkas ahead of youngster Conor Hazard against Rangers on Saturday, claiming that Lennon dropped a hint by selecting Barkas against Dundee United.
Ex-Hibernian striker Tam McManus was particularly critical about Barkas, stating that he has no presence and quite simply doesn’t save enough shots (cited by This is Futbol).
Barkas only made his second Scottish Premiership appearance since the middle of October during his side’s 3-0 win against Dundee United before the New Year.
Speaking to Football Insider, McLeish believes that Lennon will go with the unpopular shot-stopper, overlooking Hazard in the process despite his eye-catching performance against Lille in the Europa League.
“Ooh wow, that is a dilemma for Neil and only Neil and his assistants will be the one privy to that,” he said.
“I would have thought the fact that he brought Barkas back against Dundee United will be an indicator that he will play at the weekend.
“Barkas has had a little bit of criticism but people haven’t necessarily seen him at his best.
“Then again, he’s made some saves. Celtic dominate games so he hasn’t had to make many saves but when he has, he’s not had the credit he deserves for that.
“Neil Lennon will be the guy that knows and will have that instinct as a coach and a manager to know which one is going to be in between the sticks.”
Transfer Tavern Verdict
McLeish is spot on here. This is a huge call for Lennon to make and the wrong decision could cost his side the game before a ball has even been kicked.
The Irish tactician recently started captain Scott Brown in the cup final despite Chris Sutton believing that it would send the wrong message to the youngsters in the team – perhaps an insight into Lennon’s trust in experience over youth.
The fact that Lennon opted for Barkas during the week does indeed seem to be an ‘indicator’ or hint that he will get the nod this weekend.
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