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VASILIS BARKAS AND THE CURIOUS STAT

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VASILIS BARKAS will get the opportunity to make his first save of 2021 against St Johnstone at Parkhead this evening.

Remarkably, the £4.5million misfit has failed to keep the ball out of the net on the three occasions he has been brought into action this year.

It’s an extraordinary statistic from the Greek keeper’s two first-team appearances at Ibrox and Livingston where the Hoops lost 1-0 and drew 2-2 respectively.

Callum McGregor’s unfortunate deflection was the only effort on target in the Glasgow derby where Steven Gerrard’s Govan outfit rode their luck against 10-man Celtic who had Nir Bitton red-carded on the hour mark after dominating up until that point.

SINKING FEELING…Vasilis Barkas looks crestfallen as the ball hits the net.

Barkas was quarantined after the ill-fated Dubai trip and missed the 1-1 draw with Hibs and 0-0 deadlock against Livi in Glasgow before replacing Conor Hazard for the game in West Lothian. In treacherous conditions, the home side were restricted to a header from Ciaran Brown and a shot from Jay Emmanuel-Thomas in 90 minutes and both managed to elude the one-time AEK Athens keeper.

However, the expensive flop will return to the side against the Perth club with Scott Bain sidelined with a hand injury.

John Kennedy insisted the netminder has NOT been written off and will get the opportunity to show why the Hoops made him the most expensive goalie in the club’s history.

The stand-in boss, speaking to the Daily Record, said: “Obviously, Barkas has come in as a new signing. We’ve found, speaking to a lot of people at different clubs, it’s been really challenging for the foreign lads this year.

“It’s easy for us, we’re based at home and we go home to our families every night and we’re used to the environment.

LIVI NIGHTMARE…Vasilis Barkas at the end of the 2-2 draw against Livingston, his last first-team appearance.

“But, for the foreign lads it’s been coming into a kind of alien environment with the Covid restrictions also and it’s been really challenging for a lot of them. We’ve found that with a couple of our guys and speaking to other clubs they’ve had similar challenges.

“Again, we’ve got to take that into account.

“He’s obviously one who we’ve had high hopes for and maybe his form didn’t quite hit the heights we expected. But again we’ve got to work on that, develop that in him.

“He’s now had one year of exposure to that, he realises what the standards are.

“And obviously with Scott being injured it gives him that opportunity to come in for the last two games.

“He wants to finish the season well enough and then attack pre-season knowing what’s coming this time.”

* DON’T miss the unbeatable match report from Celtic v St Johnstone this evening – only in your champion CQN.

 

 

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