Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou heaped praise on veteran English goalkeeper Joe Hart after keeping back-to-back clean sheets for his new club.

The 34-year-old former England international signed with Celtic last week from Tottenham on a three-year deal.

Hart had a scratchy debut in a 4-2 Europa League win at Jablonec last week but has since kept clean sheets as the Hoops recorded 6-0 and 3-0 wins over Dundee and the Czech outfit respectively.

Postecoglou had utilised Vasilis Barkas and Scott Bain in goal in games earlier this season but Hart now appears first choice.

Celtic's victory over Jablonec on Thursday saw them progress into the Europa League playoff round with a 7-2 aggregate win, with Hart making a few key saves.

"He’s a top quality goalkeeper and he was there when we needed him tonight," Postecoglou said after the game.

"Aside from that, he has a real presence around the place and he’s very motivated to have success and that’s the kind of people we need here."

Postecoglou, who took over at Celtic Park in June, has been criticised in some quarters since his arrival, not helped by crashing out of the Champions League in qualifying to Midtjylland and losing to newly-promoted Hearts in their opening league fixture.

However in Thursday's win, Celtic adopted the Australian's renowned possession-based style of play, which served him well in Japan with 2019 J.League champions Yokohama F. Marinos.

"It’s part of who we want to be," Postecoglou said about their style. "We’ve got to be a team that shows no fear and tries to play our football and dictate the game.

"It’s not easy to do, to be fair, and I do put a lot of responsibility and expectation on the players to do that.

"The other side of that is that you do get great rewards if you’re prepared to be brave, and I think that these last two or three games, we’ve got our rewards for it."

Celtic have announced the double signing of Joe Hart and James McCarthy.

Former Manchester City goalkeeper Hart, twice a Premier League champion in 12 years at the Etihad Stadium, joins after spending last season with Tottenham.

The 34-year-old, who has 75 England caps, was limited to 10 appearances in 2020-21, eight of which came in the Europa League.

Hart has signed a three-year contract, while McCarthy, who left Crystal Palace at the end of the season, has agreed a four-year deal.

"This is a great moment for me in my career and I am absolutely delighted to be joining a club of Celtic's stature," Hart said via Celtic's website.

"I know just how big this club is and of the incredible support that it enjoys, and I can't wait to play in front of the fans at Celtic Park."

Manager Ange Postecoglou said: "I'm delighted that we have signed two top-class players in Joe and James. Both of them have a wealth of experience at both club and international level, and that is something which can only benefit the squad, and I'm looking forward to working with both of them.

"I know our supporters will be well aware of both players, and I'm sure they'll welcome them to the club and look forward to seeing both of them play for Celtic in the seasons ahead."

Celtic began their Scottish Premiership season with a 2-1 loss to Hearts last week.

They suffered a Champions League qualifying exit to Midtjylland three days earlier.

Kieran Trippier has one year remaining on his Atletico Madrid contract.

The England international has been heavily linked with a move to Manchester United.

It has been reported that Trippier wants to return to England, having left Tottenham for LaLiga in 2019.

 

TOP STORY - TRIPPIER TO WAIT ON UNITED MOVE

Manchester United target Kieran Trippier is willing to wait until late in the transfer window to secure his move, reports the Telegraph.

Atletico Madrid full-back Trippier is said to have set his sights on a move to United, who have already been busy in the transfer market by launching moves for Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane.

The report claims Trippier is prepared to sit tight and wait for United to raise the funds required to put together a move for the 30-year-old former Manchester City junior.

 

ROUND-UP

- Aston Villa are ready to restart talks with Jack Grealish about a new deal next week as Manchester City begin to ramp up their interest, according to the Express and Star.

- Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma is being lined up by West Ham,  with a proposed £20m bid set to be tabled, according to the Daily Mail. It had been reported Zouma may be used in a deal for Sevilla's Jules Kounde.

- Barcelona are lining up a second bid to sign Juventus defender Cristian Romero after having had a player-plus-cash deal turned down, reports SportItalia. Tottenham are also keen on Romero.

- Celtic could make a move for ex-England goalkeeper Joe Hart, who is currently on Tottenham's books, says BBC Sport.

Joe Hart has apologised for a post on his social media account that celebrated a non-existent Tottenham win after they crashed out of the Europa League to Dinamo Zagreb.

Goalkeeper Hart watched from the bench as Spurs let a 2-0 first-leg lead slip, beaten 3-0 after extra time in Croatia on Thursday.

However, a post on Hart's page hailed a "job done" before it was later removed.

The former Manchester City star took to his Instagram story on Friday to try to explain the error, saying a member of his social media team had assumed the 3-0 scoreline was in Tottenham's favour.

"I feel like I need to come on and make an apology on behalf of my social media team," he said. "It's just been brought to my attention. I've literally just woken up.

"Someone thought that we'd won 3-0 last night - sloppy as it sounds, it's the truth - and posted 'job done'.

"It's unacceptable and I'm sure it's annoyed a lot of people. I'm sorry it's come to that.

"It's obviously not come from me. I've got nothing but love for the club and support for the team. I'm just as down as the boys are.

"Apologies. Unfortunately this happens, but just know that it doesn't come from any other place than a typo."

Spurs became the first English side to fail to progress in a European tie after claiming a two-goal first-leg lead since City were knocked out of the Champions League by Monaco in 2017, while Hart was out on loan at Torino.

Hart joined Tottenham at the start of this season and has made 10 appearances for the club, nine of them coming in wins. The other match, a 3-3 draw with LASK, included his sole error leading to a goal.

The ex-England international has conceded eight goals with a save percentage of 70.4 per cent.

Jose Mourinho has offered his backing to Tottenham captain Hugo Lloris, who he believes ranks among the finest goalkeepers in the world.

Lloris shipped eight goals last week, with his performance in a 3-0 defeat to Premier League leaders Manchester City coming under scrutiny after Spurs came out on the wrong side of a 5-4 FA Cup thriller at Everton.

Joe Hart is expected to return for Thursday's Europa League round-of-32 meeting with Wolfsberger, although Mourinho does not feel Lloris' status as first choice is under immediate threat from the ex-England number one.

"When a player is a top player, one or two or three mistakes does not make him not a top player. That is the most important thing," Mourinho told a pre-match news conference before highlighting some of Alisson's recent struggles at Liverpool.

"I shouldn't speak about it because he's not my goalkeeper, but I don't think he will take it on the wrong side: for me Alisson is one of the top five best goalkeepers in the world and in the previous matches he made big mistakes.

"But he is one of the top five in the world, in my opinion, and Hugo is the same. He is an amazing goalkeeper who is performing super consistently since he recovered from that fracture.

"During all my time here he is playing so, so well. If he had responsibility on one or another of the goals we conceded recently he is still the same goalkeeper, he is my number one choice and has all my trust and confidence.

"In Joe Hart's case I am happy he played already nine matches this season. He's a goalkeeper that I totally trust too."

Among goalkeepers to have played five or more games in the Premier League this season, Lloris ranks fifth in terms of save percentage (74) behind Nick Pope, Emiliano Martinez, Robert Sanchez and Ederson.

He has only made one error leading to a goal and is outperforming his expected goals on target (xGOT) conceded of 19.7, as per Opta, having let in 17 goals excluding penalties and own goals.

Lloris' cumulative goals prevented figure of 2.7 comes thanks to 71 saves from 88 shots on target faced in the top flight.

Dwindling form either side of Christmas left Spurs languishing ninth in the Premier League.

Yet they are still only six points shy of fourth-placed Chelsea with a game in hand and Mourinho rejected the suggestion that the Europa League represents his team's best hope of securing Champions League qualification.

 "It's difficult in any case but it's possible in both cases," he said. "Fourth position in the Premier League is, of course, very difficult but is not mathematically impossible.

"Last season we were in a very, very bad position to get in the Europa League spots. In the end we made it in the last minute of the last game, but we made it.

"Our motivation last season was that, while it was mathematically possible, we had to go. We chased it until the last game which is the same thing we are going to do."

He added: "In the Europa League there are an incredible number of matches. We are only in the last 32. It is a strong competition with very good teams.

"But it is open. We are one of the 32 teams who have a chance to win and we are going to try."

Thursday's match has been moved to the Puskas Arena in Budapest due to COVID-19 restrictions in Austria.

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