JOE HART will play his eighteenth successive game for Celtic when he faces St Johnstone at Parkhead this afternoon.
The 34-year-old former England international keeper is enjoying life at the Hoops after joining on a three-year deal in a £1million bargain switch from Spurs at the start of August.
Two days later Hart made his debut in the 4-2 Europa League qualifying win over FK Jablonec on the Czech Republic and he has been in charge of the back line ever since.
I’M IN CHARGE…Joe Hart points the way ahead to his Celtic team-mates.
The experienced netminder apologised to the fans for signs of rust which had to be expected after rarely figuring for the London team the previous year.
Hart promised to improve – and the likeable Englishman has been as good as his word.
Ange Postecoglou has seen his side triumph on three successive outings against Aberdeen, Motherwell and Ferencvaros – with the shotstopper having shut-out in the last two encounters – and CQN highlighted the importance of Hart at the start of the month after a crucial save at Pittodrie to kick off the sequence.
Has the 75 times-capped custodian finally answered his critics in his quest to solve the No.1 problem that haunted the team last season?
Hart replied: “That’s for other people to judge because they know what they expect from Celtic players. I can only be me, I can only give 100 per cent like I do.
“Obviously, I play for the club, I play for the badge and I play for the manager.
“I’m trying to understand what he wants from me as best I can, that’s for other people to judge, but I feel good in shirt at the moment and I want that to continue.”
FAN-TASTIC…Joe Hart has won over the Celtic support with his consistent displays.
There is now a confidence and conviction among the players and Hart, speaking to Celtic TV, added: “I don’t think we can afford to let it change. We’d like to think we’re going to keep a pretty decent level, which we maintained when we weren’t necessarily getting the results we wanted.
“Obviously, we want to keep winning – it’s no secret that winning does bring confidence, but we’re trying to build a nice flat-line, something that we can work to, and then the performances will come from there.”
Hart is playing a key role in a Hoops rearguard that bears little comparison to the shaky defence of the previous campaign when Vasilis Barkas and Scott Bain were utilised in goal with Kristoffer Ajer, Shane Duffy, Jonjo Kenny and Diego Laxalt often sharing the back-four responsibilities.
All four left the club in the summer of change, but, with Hart now entrenched as the main man between the posts, a long corner is being turned.
* DON’T miss the unbeatable match report from Celtic v St Johnstone at Parkhead this afternoon – only in your champion CQN.