Christopher Jullien has urged Celtic supporters not to view Vasilis Barkas as a like-for-like replacement for Fraser Forster.
The Hoops kick off their bid to win 10-in-a-row this afternoon with a home game against Hamilton Accies.
And Barkas, their £4.5-million buy from AEK Athens, could be handed a quick debut after being confirmed as the new first-choice keeper by boss, Neil Lennon.
With the Greek able to boast a record of 61 clean sheets from 111 appearances for AEK in his homeland, expectations are high.
Jullien, though, warns fans not to make judgments based solely on what has gone immediately before.
“I don’t think it’s good to compare Vasilis with Fraser,” said the French centre-back.
“The club and Glasgow knows what Fraser did for us last year,” he said.
“He is the best goalkeeper I’ve had at my back, but comparing the new goalkeeper with Fraser is a mistake.
“He has his qualities, and so does Fraser.
“Vasilis is a big guy, and I think he’s played enough games to know what is needed from him.
“He knows the expectation of the club,and I can’t wait to play alongside him.”
Barkas himself reports his initial instruction from his new club as being measured.
“I have spoken with the manager, and he has not asked for anything special or spectacular,” said the 26-year-old, who has won 10 caps for his country.
“He said that although Celtic is a very big club, I should not feel the pressure. I just have to work hard and play to win.
“That is good for me because I don’t suffer from nerves. I am always calm – in life, on the field, everywhere.
“I am calm because it helps myself and my team-mates. If I am angry, that is no good for the team or the defence.
“But the clean-sheet record is very important to me. It is the same as with a striker. They have to score goals.
“It is what Celtic and all big clubs want – their strikers to score, and their keepers to keep clean sheets.”
Jullien himself was similarly philosophical about dealing with all the noise that will surround the bid for a tenth successive title.
“I think we’ll hear about how important this season is for Celtic, but in the dressing room, we just have to keep it like it was last year.
“Every week, we try to win the game, and after that the points will go up and we can show on the field what we can do and who we are.
“Talk about 10-in-a-row will be in the media and everywhere because it’s the
thing the club did for the last nine years.
“We’re just going to stay focused on doing what we have to do every week.
“Celtic is a big club, and we know there’s been a lot of pressure on Celtic for years.”
The release, the Frenchman says, will come from getting back on to the pitch and into competitive action again.
“At the moment we just can’t wait,” he said.
“We have had our training, and we have played some decent pre-season games.
“Now we just want to go out and leave everything on the field because it has been a long time since our last league game.
“We didn’t finish the season like we wanted to. We had to go when we wanted to play on, but I think we deserved to win the championship last season.”
Covid-19 curtailed the 2019-20 campaign, and it will also ensure Neil Lennon’s men kick off the defence of their title in front of a deserted Celtic Park.
“We are ready for it,” said Jullien.
“The Covid situation is not normal at all, but we know that the fans are always behind us, even if they are watching on a television screen.
“We are ready to launch everything at it, and just go.”
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