Celtic goalkeeper Conor Hazard might be onto something as he stakes claim for starting berth

By Euan Davidson

March 30, 2021

Celtic goalkeeper Conor Hazard, as we’ve discussed, has had a strange year.

While he’s signed a new deal with the club, he’s played a part in the club’s history without necessarily winning everyone over. He went from obscurity to being the Celtic no.1. Then, as quickly as it began, it went quiet again. The intrigue surrounding Hazard only grew with a start for Northern Ireland.

The goalie, whose heroics helped Celtic achieve an unprecedented Quadruple Treble [BBC], made some very interesting comments regarding first-team action. Following the USA’s 2-1 win over Northern Ireland, Hazard said [Daily Record]:

“My main focus is I have to get game time. That has to be one of the non-negotiables now if I’m going to take the next step in my career.

“With Celtic the main aim is to be number one and I’ll go back and do everything I can to nail that down. If that doesn’t work then I’ll look at the options.

“It’s in my personality to keep going until I get what I want. I have self-belief and I think I’m proving that with every opportunity I get. I’ve played seven games and have four clean sheets and unbeaten in seven.”

Conor Hazard in goal for Celtic vs Hibernian / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Conor Hazard makes a compelling case, but what of Bain and Barkas?

There’s a famous scene from The Simpsons, in which Homer, Barney and the barflies at Moe’s have to pick a designated driver by selecting pickled eggs from a jar.

Whether that’s the system Celtic are using to pick their goalkeeper is unclear. What is certain, though, is that it’s caused Bhoys supporters several headaches this season. We thought we had the answer when Vasilis Barkas arrives from AEK Athens in the summer of 2020 [BBC].

Oddly, though, Barkas has been out of the squad for a long time through injuries and Neil Lennon’s lack of faith. That’s despite boasting 6 clean sheets in 13 league outings [Transfermarkt]. Scott Bain is the current incumbent, and in fairness to him, he hasn’t done an awful lot wrong in his second spell as the regular ‘keeper this season.

It’s all very confusing. Whether it’s right for Conor Hazard to stir the pot with these latest comments is entirely down to who reads them. He does have a compelling case, though.

His shot-stopping abilities are well-proven by now. He’s a tall, commanding goalkeeper, who despite some jitters, has 4 clean sheets in 5 league outings. There are questions about his ability to read the game, though, and his instincts at set-pieces – a problem throughout the Celtic defence.

Is he worthy of another shot? That’s subjective. If he’s the long-term future of the no.1 shirt, then yes. At just 23, he’s a junior in goalkeeping years, but if there’s enough in his game to warrant a new contract, then surely he’s got to be allowed some more opportunities.

With low stakes in the Scottish Premiership, it’s up to John Kennedy. We know how Hazard feels, at least.

READ MORE: “Brilliant news” – not our words, but those of Celtic supporters.