MISFIRING Luis Palma is about to get the boot as Celtic’s penalty-taker after his double flop in the 1-0 win over Ross County at Parkhead at the weekend.
The Honduran missed back-to-back spot-kicks and has now squandered THREE of the six he has taken since his summer arrival.
Palma saw Motherwell’s Liam Kelly dive to his right to deny him from 12 yards in November. It turned out to be an extremely costly miss with the visitors equalising late in the 1-1 stalemate.
And the £3million winger was left frustrated again following identical efforts against the Highlanders with netminder George Wickens saving both.
BLUNDER ONE…Luis Palma watches County keeper George Wickens dive to push away his spot-kick.
BLUNDER TWO…it’s a case of deja vu as Wickens again goes right to deny the Honduran.
The on-loan Fulham keeper did his homework just in case the champions won a penalty on his debut – and he was rewarded when Palma didn’t change his routine of hitting the ball low to the shotstopper’s right.
With the hosts leading 1-0 after Alistair Johnston’s deflected first-minute strike, Simon Murray flattened skipper Callum McGregor and referee Euan Anderson had no alternative but to point to the spot.
Palma’s first attempt lacked power and precision and the young Englishman plunged to push the ball away.
The kick was ordered to be retaken after VAR flagged up several County players had encroached in the area before the save.
The 24-year-old international touchline ace tried again and once more his weak effort was beaten away by his opponent.
Palma is joined by David Turnbull and Reo Hatate as penalty-kick culprits this term with the Scotland international midfielder and the Japanese playmaker passing up opportunities against St Mirren and Hearts respectively.
Turnbull has been entrusted with four and Hatate two and Brendan Rodgers is now going to scrutinise the takers.
SPOT-KICK SINNER…Luis Palma looks stunned after his second miss.
The Hoops boss, speaking to the Scottish Sun, said: “He’s missed a few now, so we’ll have to look at that.
“I’m all for giving players opportunity and confidence if you make mistakes, but there’s no doubt we’ll have to look at that.”
Goalkeeper Wickens, who has joined the Dingwall club until the end of the campaign, revealed he had been swotting up on Palma’s technique with coach Scott Thomson, the keeper who saved from Paul McStay in the Hoops’ League Cup Final spot-kick shoot-out loss against Raith Rovers in 1994.
The 22-year-old six-foot plus netminder said: “I had spoken to the goalkeeping coach about it. We do our homework on it a couple of days before each game. On a Thursday we look through a number of things Celtic do. Not just penalties, but that was one aspect of it.
“Luckily, I have managed to go the right way twice. We always just speak about percentages. The first one was based off that and the second one was more of a gut feeling.”
Wickens, in a report in the Glasgow Times, added: “I know that Palma is a very good player and quite often those players back themselves to do it again and go that same way.
“Luckily, I got it right and was able to save the second, as well.”
At this rate, Rodgers may be looking at keeper Joe Hart to take over the spot-kick role.