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Celtic: Craig Gordon will return to the team for AIK clash on Thursday

Celtic: Craig Gordon will return to the team for AIK clash on Thursday

Celtic manager Neil Lennon has confirmed that there will be at least one change to the starting line-up for Thursday’s Europa League play-off second leg against AIK from the weekend’s win over Hearts.

The Scottish Sun quoted Lennon as saying that goalkeeper Craig Gordon will return to the starting line-up in place of Fraser Forster, who last Sunday made the first start of his second spell at the club but has not been registered in Celtic’s squad for the Europa League play-off round.

Lennon told The Scottish Sun: “Fraser isn’t registered for Thursday and Craig Gordon will play. I just wanted to get Fraser some gametime and I am in a great position with the quality keepers we have.”

Forster returned to Celtic last week on a season-long loan move from Southampton, as reported by BBC. He had already been at the Hoops for a four-year spell between 2010 and 2014, initially joining on loan from Newcastle before signing permanently.

The England international began his second spell at Celtic with a 3-1 win over Hearts on Sunday, in which he saved a penalty from Conor Washington before the striker dispatched the rebound. [via BBC]

Excluding shootouts, that was the 12th time in his professional career that he has kept out a penalty, having faced 32 in total, giving him a superb penalty saving percentage of 37.5%. [via]

In his previous four years at Celtic, Forster stopped seven out of 16 penalties (43.75%) in 197 appearances, averaging one penalty save per 28.1 games. [via]

Gordon will come back into the team having kept two clean sheets in his three games so far this season and conceding only one goal, that against Dunfermline in the Betfred Cup. [via]

Unlike Forster, he does not have a track record for penalty saves, stopping just three of 45 faced (6.67%) in his career and one of 19 (5.26%) at Celtic. His last penalty save for the Hoops was against Hearts’ Osman Sow almost five years ago, having been beaten 18 times from the spot since then. [via]

The two goalkeepers’ overall records for Celtic are similar, with Gordon’s 239 appearances yielding 120 clean sheets (50.2% of games) and 190 goals conceded (0.79 per game) while Forster has let in 158 goals and kept 101 clean sheets in 198 appearances, with 0.8 goals conceded per game and a clean sheet record of 51%.

Forster and Gordon have very similar goal concession and clean sheet records at Celtic, although should the tie go to penalties, the absence of the England man could be a concern given his far superior record on spot kicks.

From open play, though, Gordon’s statistics suggest he is of a similar standard to Forster and it was the Scotland goalkeeper who ended last week’s first leg against AIK with a clean sheet, so this change shouldn’t affect Celtic unduly.

Celtic fans, are you pleased to see Gordon coming back in for the AIK game or would you rather have had Forster available? Let us know your thoughts by commenting below!

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Article title: Celtic: Craig Gordon will return to the team for AIK clash on Thursday

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