By Noel Whelan

12th Aug, 2020 | 5:00pm

Exclusive: Hardly-seen Celtic player tipped for central role after sighting

Noel Whelan was impressed by Celtic newboy Vasilis Barkas’ debut at the weekend.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider correspondent Dylan Childs, the former Aberdeen forward is tipping the Greek goalkeeper to make the Celtic no.1 shirt his own.

With Fraser Forster returning to Southampton following his loan spell, Neil Lennon brought in the 26-year-old for a reported £4.5m from AEK Athens.

Barkas had little to do in the 1-1 draw at Kilmarnock last weekend and could only be beaten from the penalty spot as Chris Burke earned the hosts a point.

The result comes as an early blow as Celtic look to complete a historic 10 consecutive Scottish Premiership titles.

Asked whether he was impressed by Barkas’ debut, Whelan said: “Yeah, absolutely. Debuts are not easy, there’s a lot of pressure on you.

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“You want to try and get through the game, show your qualities, show your strengths and show why you’ve been signed. As debuts go it’s a decent one.

“I’m sure Neil Lennon was waiting for the chance to pop him in there. He’s been with the club a couple of weeks so he’s had time to know your surroundings, know your players and bed yourself in then you get the opportunity.

“He’ll be more than happy to get the debut under his belt and he’ll be looking for more starts throughout this season.”

Dutch-born Barkas made 93 appearances for AEK Athens across four seasons. He won the League with the club in 2018.

Barkas played against Celtic in the Champions League qualification stages in 2018 and also has Europa League experience.

The shot-stopped has 10 caps for Greece.

Barkas has big gloves to fill in the shape of Fraser Forster who kept 14 clean sheets in 28 Scottish Premiership games last season for the Hoops.

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