CELTIC legend John Hughes admits he can’t wait to get his first proper glimpse of Vakoun Issouf Bayo, the £2million striker who has yet to start since his January arrival from Slovakia.
The 22-year-old powerhouse frontman, Brendan Rodgers’ final permanent Hoops transfer, has totalled a mere four first-team minutes as a late substitute in the dramatic 1-0 win over Kilmarnock at Rugby Park last month.
Since then, the Ivorian international has come off the radar and hasn’t even figured in Neil Lennon’s squads for the games against Hearts, Hibs and Aberdeen.
And there may be no place for Bayo in the Premiership visit to Dens Park for the encounter with relegation-threatened Dundee on Sunday.
But Big Yogi, the seventh-highest scorer in the Hoops’ history with 189 goals, would like to see what the new Bhoy can offer after he agreed a four-year contract at the turn of the year.
HOOP, HOOP HOORAY…Bayo and teenager Armstrong Oko-Flex celebrate a goal for the reserves.
In another EXCLUSIVE interview with CQN, Hughes said: “I had seen some clips of Bayo in action for his club side and I have to admit I liked what I had viewed and I thought he would bring an X-factor to my old club.
“I noted that a lot of goals were scored with his head and I don’t think that has been a weapon we have utilised too often in recent seasons.
“We have marvellous deadball kickers such as Callum McGregor and Ryan Christie who can deliver inviting crosses. Ewan Henderson looks more than useful, too.
“Odsonne Edouard and Oliver Burke are two big guys, but I wouldn’t say their ability in the air is their forte.
“Dedryck Boyata helps out, too, in these situations, but, although he is good in the air, I believe defending is his specialised skill.
“We saw that last week against Aberdeen when he had an opportunity from about six yards after a right-wing corner-kick.
“His body shape wasn’t quite right and he put his header wide. A natural goalscorer would have had it on target, at the very least.
“Kristoffer Ajer is a skyscraper, but rarely offers a goal threat.
“Filip Benkovic scored with an excellent header from a left-wing corner-kick against Hearts at Parkhead, but he has been missing for such a long time now with injury and I see my old team-mate Davie Hay has already said we should send him back to Leicester City before his loan expires at the end of the season.
“You never know with injuries, but I would keep him around as a safety net, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t see him again in the top side.
“Bayo, from what I have witnessed, enjoys these aerial duels and makes his height and strength count will making his presence known.
“Possibly, Neil Lennon will give him a chance before the end of the campaign. If results go our way, there may be games where he can experiment a little.
PARADISE…Bayo can’t wait to make an impact with the champions.
“As I say, I was curious when Rodgers brought in Bayo in the first place and I am still intrigued as to what he can offer Celtic.
“Hopefully, there will be a game or two when the timing will be right to release the beast, in football terms.
“There have been occasions in this campaign when Celtic have missed a big targetman. You just have to look back to Ibrox in December to have that emphasised.
“Mikey Johnston led the line that afternoon and, absolutely no disrespect to the young man who will have benefited from the experience, but that was not the setting for him to make his first appearance in this fixture.
“I have no doubt there will be other such encounters where he will have happier experiences, but a guy such as Bayo would definitely have been more of a nuisance and a threat against the Ibrox back lot that day.
“I would never presume to tell Neill Lennon who should be in our out of his squads, but I would like to see the Ivorian get a run and we can all see why he came on our radar in the first place.
“He scored 14 goals in 25 league outings for Dunajska Streda in Slovakia and it would be good to see what he can contribute to Celtic.”