Neil Lennon has confirmed that Vasilis Barkas will start for Celtic against Rangers on Saturday after bringing the Greek goalkeeper back into his side.
Barkas, a summer signing from AEK Athens, has failed to establish himself as the undisputed number one goalkeeper at the club. Lennon replaced the 26-year-old with Scott Bain earlier in the season and young Northern Irishman Conor Hazard had started the previous five games.
A 3-0 win over Dundee United gave Barkas a clean sheet on his return to the starting line-up and Lennon said he will keep faith with him for the high-pressure derby at Ibrox.
“We have big games coming up and I want Vasilis to play in them,” he said.
“He has come in as number one and I want him to play. I think Conor’s done very well but he’s still very fledgling in his career.
“It would be a big call to put him into a game of this magnitude at the weekend. So, I want to go back to experience.
“Vasilis hasn’t shown us what he’s all about but he’s capable of doing that. So I thought it was important to give him a game before the weekend.”
Lennon’s plans may have to be redrawn after Christopher Jullien was stretchered off after crashing into a post when blocking a United chance on Wednesday. The Celtic boss couldn’t give a definitive verdict on the centre-back’s availability but said he had other options if the Frenchman wasn’t fit.
“Christopher had an impact on the knee, on the post, quite a heavy one,” he said. “I am not ruling him out or in.
“It would be a big blow if Christopher was out of the Rangers game because of the way we want to play.
“We’ll have to assess him over the next couple of days. But again we’ve got Nir Bitton, we’ve got Shane Duffy.
“We’re okay in terms of cover but Christopher’s a big game player and we’d like him fit if possible.
“Our confidence is good, although we’re not getting carried away. Rangers is a tough game and they are in good form. So it’s a great challenge for us.”