CELTIC legend Davie Hay insists he is “not worried” about the early showings of new Bhoy Boli Bolingoli.
The £3million left-back, signed from Rapid Vienna earlier this month, was sloppy with a pass that led to FK Sarajevo’s equalising goal during the Hoops’ 2-1 triumph at Parkhead on Wednesday.
It didn’t prevent the team progressing to the next round on a 5-2 aggregate, but the Belgian defender was quick to hold up his hands and take the blame for the loss of the goal.
Neil Lennon, too, acknowledged his recruit, who could become the long-term replacement for fans’ favourite Kieran Tierney if he leaves the club, was culpable in the lead-up play that brought the Bosnians a surprise leveller with their only shot at goal. Later in the competition a similar lapse could have disastrous consequences.
However, Hay, who won his first medal at the Hoops while playing full-back in the 1-0 League Cup Final victory over St Johnstone in 1969, believes Bolingoli will start to deliver once he settles into his new surroundings.
The club ambassador, speaking to the Evening Times, said: “The history of Celtic is littered with full-backs you would watch all day bombing forward, but your hands would cover the eyes whenever they were asked to defend.
ON THE BALL…Boli Bolingoli in action against FK Sarajevo.
“I played with the greatest of them all, Danny McGrain, the best full-back in the world both in attack and at the back, but the great man was something of a one-off.
“Boli Bolingoli has shown over two games to be comfortable on the ball, not short of skill, keen to help out down the wing and he has a cross within him, as well.
“This is all good, great even, but a defender’s primary job is to defend.
“And so far, he has made a few mistakes. But I’m not worried.
“This is a young man trying desperately to impress, which means the temptation to attempt a spectacular pass out from the back, rather than a simple five-yard ball to a team-mate, is almost always too much to turn down.
“It’s called showing off. Young Bolingoli will calm down.
“I have seen enough in the left-back to suggest Celtic have a player on their hands. He sold the goal against Sarajevo, but that happens. It was encouraging to hear him after the game talk about the need to tighten up the defensive side of his game. This will come.
“We like to see the full-backs get forward. It’s the Celtic way. But when it comes to Europe, and Sarajevo are hardly world-beaters, teams only need a daft mistake at the back and they will score.
“Celtic is a step up and he will need to find his feet. I like what I see. There is work to do, but the lad is a footballer and one who likes to express himself.
“He might not be Kieran Tierney but, hey, who is?”