VASILIS BARKAS has the full backing of boss Neil Lennon as criticism mounts on the Greek keeper.
The international No.1, who cost £4.5million when he arrived from AEK Athens in the summer, has failed to convince the Celtic fans he is the man to protect the team’s interests in a monumental season.
Barkas has taken over from fans’ favourite Fraser Forster who opted to stay at Southampton to see out the remaining two years of his £90,000-per-week contract rather than return for a second loan spell in Glasgow.
It was never going to be an easy task, but the netminder has not helped his cause with some nervy displays and recent stats don’t do him any favours.
AC Milan had three attempts on target on Thursday night and all three found their way into the net in the Italians’ 3-1 Europa League Group H victory at Parkhead on Thursday night.
Barkas was beaten in the 14th minute to kick off the misery when he appeared to give up too early on an eight-yard header from Rade Krunic.
Steven Gerrard’s side didn’t exactly pepper his goal with efforts in the previous game, but they still got two and the first from Connor Goldson left question marks about the shotstopper’s reflexes as the cushioned header eluded him at his right.
However, it looks odds-on Barkas will get the nod to face Aberdeen at Pittodrie tomorrow in the midday shoot-out.
Boss Lennon, speaking to the Daily Record, said: “Goalkeeper is a specialist position. I’m not criticising him.
“I think he can improve and will improve as he goes along. I think it’s unfair to criticise one player after a difficult couple of games. I’m not going to do that.”
The gaffer admitted he was disappointed by “poor and soft” goals lost against the Italians, but he is likely to resist calls from some quarters to re-instate Scott Bain for the crucial match in the north east.
Once again, the spotlight will go on the most expensive goalkeeper in Celtic history as they go in pursuit of three vital points against Derek McInnes’ side.