Connor Hazard must be wondering when he'll get his chance as Celtic's goalkeeping issues continue
As Celtic continue to struggle in the goalkeeping department – a penny for the thoughts of Lennoxtown youngster Conor Hazard please.
It hasn’t gotten much media attention, but Hazard has been called up to Northern Ireland’s senior squad for their upcoming Euro 2020 playoff in Slovakia. They also have Nations League matches coming up against Austria and Romania respectively.
Northern Ireland boss Ian Baraclough is clearly a big fan of his, and when Hazard last spoke about his international ambitions, he let slip a revealing piece of information about his Celtic situation.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph back in September, Hazard said the following on what happened over the summer:
“I’ve had quite a lot of places to go but from the club’s perspective with Covid and the lack of numbers it just wasn’t the right time to let me go out.”
As a third-choice goalkeeper, he must now be wondering why he isn’t getting his own shot in the Celtic first-team. After all, going by logic then the time should be right for Neil Lennon to turn to him.
New shot-stopper Vasilis Barkas has produced a string of disappointing individual displays that left Lennon feeling the need to take him out of the firing line. In came Scott Bain instead, who’s now started in each of Celtic’s last five matches.
Bain and Barkas haven’t impressed this season
Throughout that run, Bain has conceded 10 goals. He wasn’t left helpless for all of them either. Nope, Bain made some really poor errors against the likes of Lille, Aberdeen, Sparta Prague, and arguably Motherwell respectively. He’s had his chance and Lennon needs to make another change.
Naturally, if he doesn’t trust Barkas (although the time is probably right to put him back in), then surely Hazard will be wondering why he isn’t getting his shot.
The truth is that Celtic quite evidently just view the youngster as an emergency goalkeeper. Someone who may need to be thrown in should two injuries happen at the same time. Regardless of the fact that both Bain and Barkas are both underperforming, Lennon is showing no signs of giving Hazard a shot.
Perhaps the anxiety of the 10-in-a-row season also makes it even more difficult for Celtic to justify throwing Hazard in, but the Lennoxtown graduate is finally seeing just what his role is here. An emergency goalkeeper and nothing more. Not yet at least.
Hazard is clearly brimming with potential, and in an ideal world he would’ve been allowed to head out temporarily for a year. He’s already had positive experiences at Partick Thistle, Dundee, and Falkirk in the past respectively. It’s vital he builds on those in the coming years.
But even though both of the players above him have been extremely disappointing, it looks like he’ll have to come to terms with the idea that poor performances won’t be enough to get him more regular minutes at Parkhead just yet.