Celtic manager Neil Lennon has confirmed that Craig Gordon will get a chance to reclaim the number one jersey.
Gordon ironically lost his place to Scott Bain as Celtic’s number one shot-stopper after his best performance of the season. A stunning one-man show at Ibrox stopped Celtic losing with a much heavier margin than the 1-0 we got away with.
Yet, come the start of the second half of the campaign, Gordon was dropped for Bain. At the time, many believed Gordon would’ve just won his place back after a game or two. But Bain incredibly managed to go on a domestic clean sheet run of eight games. He would also put in a terrific display in Valencia during the Europa League last-32 stages.
But Lennon deemed it a “clean slate” when speaking in The Herald about the duo.
“Five years ago, Craig came in for a trial before I left and the club signed him. The jersey is up for grabs — it’s a clean slate and they’ll both be challenging for the shirt. That’s the way I want it. They must be competitive.
“Craig was unlucky to lose the jersey in the first place last season. And I think Scott’s been unlucky as well, getting left out the Scotland team for the last two games.
“That’s Steve Clarke’s prerogative, but Scott had played well for me at the back end of the season. So the two of them may have a few points to prove, which is great. That’s what you want as a manager.”
Bain still the likely number one?
Lennon unsurprisingly wants competition for places. That goes without saying. But, at the end of the day, it’s difficult to see Gordon overtaking Bain immediately as the number one.
If Bain is the man selected for the first pre-season friendly game, then it’s his jersey to lose. That’s how it works. If you’re playing, you get the chance to impress. If Lennon wanted to switch both men around, he could’ve done it during his interim spell.
But what this also perhaps tells us is that there are no plans to move Gordon on. He’s entering the final 12 months of his contract (Daily Record), and as a back-up, you could forgive him for perhaps wanting something more elsewhere. Instead, these words from Lennon suggest Gordon will be here to stay and try to fend off Bain.
As for the man who ended the campaign as the number one, he’ll be quietly confident. As Lennon says, he did, unfortunately, miss out on the two Scotland matches for David Marshall. That will likely still be gnawing away at him too. And there will be a huge point to prove there.
It should lead up to an exciting pre-season in terms of the goalkeeping spot. It gives Gordon in particular something to be optimistic about heading into the training camp in Austria.
He’ll certainly be breathing down Bain’s neck. But, in the meantime, it’s still difficult to shake the idea that Bain remains our current number one.