Pat Bonner wasn't happy with key Lennon Celtic decision last night

By David Walton

January 28, 2021

Pat Bonner can’t understand why Neil Lennon isn’t selecting Conor Hazard to star for Celtic in goals.

The Hoops boss made the bold decision last night to drop £4.5million man Vasilis Barkas [Scottish Sun]. However, in his place he threw in Scott Bain – a goalkeeper who’s proven he isn’t good enough to be a Celtic number one.

It’s also despite the fact the Hoops have gone with Hazard regularly over the last couple of months. The 22-year-old bagged a clean sheet in his last game against Livingston. However, he hasn’t managed to make any of the last two squads against Livi and Hamilton respectively.

And Bonner has admitted that he can’t understand the thinking behind him suddenly being frozen out. As he vented his anger over the decision on BBC Radio Scotland’s Sportsound show (27/01, 18:52), Bonner said:

“I’m kind of baffled myself. I shouldn’t say this but I kind of hope that Hazard has a knock or something, because it would make more sense. It doesn’t even make sense putting Barkas on the bench and putting Bain back in again.

“It’s been a troubled position for them. I’ve said it so much now. If they’re preparing for next season or next seasons, surely you would go with Conor Hazard for now. If you’re saying to the fans ‘the league is going to be a real struggle for us, let’s prepare for next year’, Hazard would be the one I would continue playing now to see whether he could develop into a first-team goalkeeper over the next three or four years.

“The only way he can develop is by playing him.”

Pat Bonner not pleased; but Lennon doesn’t have a first-choice Celtic goalkeeper

It’s clear that Lennon simply doesn’t know who his first-choice goalkeeper is. For whatever reason, he feels that he’s seen enough of Barkas for now. That much was made evidently clear last night going by his latest comments on him [Daily Record].

However, the decision to go with Bain is a total slap in the face for Hazard. A youngster who hasn’t done a lot wrong and could do with a run of games.

Much has been made of how easily the Northern Irishman has been beaten in the air. Personally, I would be keen to see if nerves had a part to play in that. Remember, Hazard impressed in the more physical Scottish Championship with Dundee last season. This isn’t a goalkeeper who can’t handle the rough stuff.

Scott Bain started for Celtic vs Hamilton last night (Photo by Craig Foy/SNS Group via Getty Images)

The only way to remove any nerves from him would be to keep him in the environment regularly. Give him the chance to get used to playing in the Celtic first-team. See if he can truly be our number one choice with a run of 10 games or so.

Let’s not pretend he hasn’t made saves over the last couple of months. The fact Barkas hasn’t made a key save of note has been well documented. But Hazard has. He’s made several in fact and in crucial moments against the likes of Lille, Hearts, and Hibernian respectively.

But for whatever reason, Lennon isn’t too keen to throw Hazard back into the mix. Time will tell whether that decision proves to be a wise one.

In other news, Lennon provided Celtic fans with a big transfer update last night.