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Neil Lennon places faith in goalkeeper Vasilis Barkas for Rangers showdown

Celtic v Dundee United – Scottish Premiership – Celtic Park
(Image credit: Andrew Milligan)

Celtic boss Neil Lennon will keep Vasilis Barkas in goal for the Old Firm derby and will not rule out Christopher Jullien who was injured in the 3-0 win over Dundee United.

Lennon recalled the Greece goalkeeper, a £5million summer signing from AEK Athens, after a five-game spell on the bench at the expense of young Northern Irishman Conor Hazard.

Barkas watched as Ismaila Soro opened his scoring account for the Hoops in the 23rd minute before fellow midfielder David Turnbull added a second before the interval.

French striker Odsonne Edouard scored a clinching third in the 75th minute with the only downside being the injury for Jullien, who was taken up the tunnel on a stretcher after crashing into a post in saving a likely United goal early in the second half.

Ahead of Saturday’s trip to Ibrox, where the Hoops are aiming to claw back Rangers’ 16-point lead, with Celtic having have three games in hand, Lennon said: “We have big games coming up and I want Vasilis to play in them.

“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.

“Christopher had an impact on the knee, on the post, quite a heavy one. 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.”

United manager Micky Mellon claimed his side should have had a penalty in the first half when the ball seemed to hit Jullien’s arm in the box.

He said: “My gut instinct right away, yes. The reaction of the players all at the same time, yes.

“And the way I seen it and the penalties I have seen given recently, I believe it was a stonewaller. They have got to go our way if we are going to get something.

“I’m frustrated because I didn’t feel that we were aggressive enough in the first half.

“I thought we gave Celtic too much respect. We were a bit too passive.

“Maybe down to the first time being here for a lot of them but we will grow out of the performance and playing at a place like Celtic.”