JOE HART will be aiming for his first away Euro clean sheet when he faces Ferencvaros in Budapest on Thursday night.
The 34-year-old former England international keeper has conceded eight goals in three games on Celtic’s travels – two each in the meetings with Jablonec (4-2) and AZ Alkmaar (0-2) and four in the Europa League Group G opener against Real Betis in Sevile when the Hoops lost 4-3 after leading 2-0 at one stage.
Hart, who agreed a three-year contract when he joined in a £1million switch from Spurs at the start of August, shut out the Hungarians in 2-0 success for Ange Postecoglou’s side at Parkhead last month and is determined to stage an action replay in the return confrontation.
BEST FOOT FORWARD…Joe Hart thwarts Hibs’ Joe Newell in Celtic’s 3-1 win at Easter Road.
CHEST A MINUTE…Joe Hart blocks a full-blooded effort from Hibs’ Jamie Murphy.
On the domestic front, the one-time Manchester City netminder has enjoyed six clean sheets in 12 Premiership games which is two more than ex-Hoops shotstopper Craig Gordon (Hearts), Max Stryjek (Livingston), Zander Clark (St Johnstone) and Matt Macey (Hibs).
Hart, capped 75 times by his country, has provided the answer to the club’s No.1 problem after a season of uncertainty last time out following the flop of £4.5million Greek Vasilis Barkas following a series of high-profile blunders.
Scott Bain and Conor Hazard were also brought in, but it has taken the arrival of the reliable Englishman, who made his 450th career league start during the scoreless stalemate with Livingston on Saturday, to bolt the back door.
NUMBER ONE…Joe Hart has won over the Celtic followers.
Postecoglou, speaking to the Daily Record, said: “When I signed Joe, it wasn’t just because he’s an outstanding goalkeeper. I felt, the way it was with so many new players, that I had to bring some experience into the dressing-room.
“I needed someone to help Callum McGregor, who is a new skipper himself. And Joe has been a great influence from day one.”
Hart will now face Ferencvaros hoping for another Celtic landmark triumph which would go a long way to guaranteeing European football after the turn of the year.