Celtic goalkeeper Vasilis Barkas could be in the team to face Aberdeen today.
Barkas, along with youngsters Ross Doohan, Luca Connell and Ewan Henderson are fighting for contention. Furthemore, Patryk Klimala could be given his chance against the Dons.
The status of Barkas has been uncertain all week. The Greek international didn’t travel to Dingwall last week. Bought for £4.5m, the investment Celtic made is yet to pay off, with reports suggesting he could move on in the summer. John Kennedy could provide clarity by picking him today.
Scott Bain has been preferred in recent weeks. That’s despite former Celtic boss Neil Lennon claiming the former AEK goalie was his number 1. Kennedy, however, may see it differently. There’s a real opportunity for the interim boss to make sweeping changes at Celtic Park, today being his first opportunity to do so.
In the past, we’ve argued that Celtic have let Barkas down. The sheer mismanagement and alienation of the stopper has been incredibly disillusioning. Yes, he was a bit poppadom-wrists against Rangers. Still, Barkas has had to work with an ever-changing defence.
The Bhoys’ inability to defend set-pieces has been a product of bad organisation all-round. Barkas could certainly improve his communication, but it’s worth remembering he doesn’t speak the language well yet, having only recently moved.
Potential Vasilis Barkas Celtic start, other names in the frame
We’ve suggested that John Kennedy might play it relatively safe in his first match as Celtic interim boss. Certainly, it looked like Scott Bain would retain his place in goals against Aberdeen.
However, with continued uncertainty over Vasilis Barkas, the Celtic coach may want to send a message. Whether of his own volition or with the board in his ear, he may start the Greek goalie today to assert his immediate influence. If that’s the case, he’ll need to stick with the former AEK man going forward.
Otherwise, he risks falling into the same traps as the man he’s temporarily replacing. Lennon couldn’t figure out the goalkeeping situation without Fraser Forster to rely upon. It was a frustrating and deeply concerning feature of 20-21, and no doubt contributed to the uncertainty in defence.
Luca Connell and Ross Doohan may also feature in the first-team squad. Connell has been training with the first-team for weeks, and seems like Kennedy’s type of player. Basing that on Kennedy’s history working with Development sides, Connell is clever, quick and creative. Who knows, he may get a nod today.
Doohan, on the other hand, is a goalkeeper. That means Celtic have 4 options between the sticks, with Conor Hazard and Scott Bain joining Barkas in contention. It’s certainly unlikely that Doohan will start, but stranger things have happened.
All in all, it’ll be a very interesting day for Celtic supporters.