IF new Bhoy Maik Nawrocki had any doubts about what is required to perform in the Celtic defence before the weekend, he certainly knows now!
The £4.3million recruit from Legia Warsaw played his first competitive 90 minutes for the champions in the hard-fought 3-1 win over Aberdeen at Pittodrie yesterday.
Nawrocki, 22, was rushed into the first team following last month’s arrival when it became clear Carl Starfelt’s two-year stay in Glasgow was coming to an end.
RED ALERT…Cameron Carter-Vickers can only look on as Dons dangerman Duk prepares to fire a pass across goal.
The former Polish Under-21 international made his debut in the 4-2 opening-day victory over Ross County before being replaced in the 67th minute by the Swede who made his final appearance for the team before his switch to La Liga side Celta Vigo.
The match against the Highlanders at a packed Parkhead on Flag Day was a stroll in the park compared to what the back-four operator experienced in the north east against Barry Robson’s men.
Nawrocki played alongside Cameron Carter-Vickers in the first-half and then Stephen Welsh in the second after the USA World Cup star remained indoors at the interval with a hamstring problem.
The German-born back-four operator switched off for a crucial moment in the 25th minute and that was enough for the hosts to equalise Liel Abada’s 11-minute opener.
It was a critical moment that exposed the fact urgent work needs to be done in the back four if the Hoops are to have a chance of making an impact in European competition this term.
ONE…Duk races onto the ball after Cameron Carter-Vickers’ mistake. On the right, Bojan Miovski is already recating ahead of Maik Nawrocki.
TWO…Duk fires in a cross with Miovski already in position with Nawrocki trailing.
THREE…Joe Hart is left unprotected as Miovski moves in for the kill with Nawrocki off the pace.
FOUR…Hart is grounded with Miovski racing away in triumph as Carter-Vickers and Nawrocki are among the stranded Celts.
Carter-Vickers misread the flight of Ryan Duncan’s deft through ball that saw saw Portuguese striker Duk scampering free on the left and heading for the byeline.
He whipped a first-time ball across the face of Joe Hart’s goal and Bojan Miovski had the freedom of the city to stroke home from smack in the middle of the goal. In an instant, Nawrocki realised the perils of dozy defending while wearing the green and white hoops.
Images show the centre-back slow to react to the Dons dangerman’s threat as he took up position in anticipation of a pass from strike partner Duk.
The hestitation from the Pole proved costly and allowed the pacy Miovski to score one of the easiest goals he’ll claim all season.
No-one wants to be too harsh on a new recruit, but expectation levels are high at Celtic and there are some vitally important encounters coming up fast with the first defence of the Viaplay League Cup on Kilmarnock’s dodgy plastic Rugby Park pitch due on Sunday.
The Hoops’ next game on their travels takes them across the city to Ibrox on Sunday September 3 and any player not completely tuned in for these confrontations – plus the home league match against St Johnstone a week on Saturday – could bring about disastrous consequences to a team in pursuit on another silverware clean sweep.
Keep your eye on the ball, Maik.