Vasilis Barkas must improve "body language and functionality" to be Celtic No.1

The goalkeeping situation at Celtic has been one of the many sore points for Neil Lennon this season.

Celtic's £4.5m summer signing Vasilis Barkas needs to do more to establish himself as the club's first choice after losing his place to Scott Bain according to his manager Neil Lennon (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

And the Northern Irishman doesn’t seek to spare the feelings of Vasilis Barkas about his exile from the side within two months of a £4.5millio move from AEK Athens.

It appears likely that the Greek will be given another chance to show more than he has so far when Ross County visit Glasgow’s east end of a League Cup tie. It is a knock-out occasion that comes after a skittish display from Scott Bain in Thursday’s excruciating 4-1 loss to Sparta Prague that led to the Scottish champions being knocked-out of contention for Europa League group qualification.

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Bain replaced Barkas seven games ago. However, despite two penalty saves in these encounters, the 29-year-old Scot has conceded 16 goals in little over a month – while Barkas had four clean sheets before the 2-0 derby reverse and 3-1 defeat to AC Milan that preceded his current spell out of the side. Lennon hints that Barkas could feature in the tie at Parkhead, but has made it plain the 25-year-old has to raise his game to reclaim the position permanently.

Improvement needed

“Whether I bring him in or not is irrelevant. I want to see an improvement in his body language and his functionality as a goalkeeper,” said the Cetic manager of the Greek international. “You have to look at the whole picture. He did OK, I think he can do better and I think he knows that. I think he’s getting more accustomed to the tempo of the game and the physicality and what’s required of him as a No.1. I see Sunday as a chance to maybe making a few changes, but not too many. All positions will be considered for the game. We don’t have any fresh injury worries from Thursday night.

“I think it’s been difficult for him [Barkas] as it has been for all the new players coming in. He’s come from a different country, different climate and environment – and certainly a very restricted environment away from the training ground [because of Covid-19]. Even at the training ground there are restrictions in terms of the dressing rooms and being able to see each other. So it’s been difficult to get him involved and to really get to know each other because the way the world is split up. The only time you’re all together is for training then you go home to an empty house and they can’t socialise together.

“Having spoken to Broony [captain Scott Brown] about it, he definitely feels it. We’re looking at doing a refit at Lennoxtown where we can look at getting the players together more adhering to the social distancing rules. I think that’s been a mitigating factor – they feel a little bit distanced from each other at times. That’s what we’re going through at the minute, it’s not normal. I’m not saying it’s the be all and end all and it’s going to fix all our problems but certainly it would help.”

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