CELTIC legend Davie Hay reckons Craig Gordon will win the battle with Scott Bain to take over as the first team keeper this season.
The former manager and player believes Neil Lennon could make the switch after his recent comments about the merits of the last line of defence, as CQN reported last month.
Brendan Rodgers’ philosophy was for goalies to be as comfortable with the ball at their feet as outfield players and be able to ping passes around instead of hoofing it hopefully and aimlessly down the pitch.
Lennon has made it clear where his priorities lie with his shotstoppers – first and foremost, to keep the ball out of the net.
Hay, speaking in the Evening Times, said: “Neil Lennon likes his goalkeepers to makes saves because, I’m surmising, this action tends to mean Celtic not conceding a goal.
“It’s not an old-fashioned way of looking at football in 2019. This isn’t backward thinking from the manager. It’s the reason goalies are allowed to use their hands and wear gloves.
“Brendan Rodgers wanted his keeper to be a footballer, someone who could stop and pass the ball with equal success.
“Lennon is of a different mindset. He still wants Celtic to build from the back, he won’t want to see his No1 punt the ball when no striker is bearing down on him and three defenders free to take a pass.
“But when it comes for the manager to choose between Craig Gordon and Scott Brown, Lenny will go with whoever he believes is going to make the most saves and take the most crosses.
“I believe that’s going to be Gordon.
GLOVE RIVALS…Craig Gordon and Scott Bain flank goalkeeper coach Stevie Woods after last season’s League Cup Final victory.
“Now, I have no word from inside the camp. I’m simply reading between the lines of what has been said so far.
“Bain has done nothing wrong. Indeed, his clean sheet record is fantastic. I just feel that Lennon will lean towards Gordon more once he’s fitter. We are going to see a lot of him this season.”
Hay, now a club ambassador, added: “Big Craig is an excellent shotstopper. Bain took his place not because the Scotland man was throwing goals in; rather than he wasn’t as good as Rodgers wanted him to be when I came to passing it.
“We have already seen with Lennon that he would rather a goalie clear their lines than attempt a 40-yard ball to a team-mate which Bobby Murdoch would be happy with.
“Gordon has proven himself to be the type of goalkeeper Lennon likes and it’s going to be interesting to see what the manager does with this issue.
“Celtic have two seriously good keepers, both recent Scotland internationals, at the same time. Has that ever happened before?”
Gordon, 36, played his first competitive game of 2019 in the 2-0 win over Nomme Kalju in Tallinn on Tuesday as the Hoops coasted to a 7-0 aggregate scoreline and a place in the third round of the Champions League qualifiers where they will meet Dan Petrescu’s Cluj with the first leg in Romania on Wednesday.
Bain, 27, has been in charge for the three other European ties against FK Sarajevo, where the Parkhead men won 3-1 and 2-1, and against the Estonians in the first leg.
The former Dundee keeper is likely to start against St Johnstone in the Premiership opener at Parkhead tomorrow, but then the fight will be on between the two glove rivals.