CRAIG Gordon last night stated that Vasilis Barkas needs time to settle at Celtic and adapt to the intense demands of the Glasgow club’s bid to complete 10-In-A-Row.

Barkas was criticised by many supporters and media pundits for his personal display in the 2-0 defeat to Premiership leaders Rangers at Parkhead on Saturday.

The Greek keeper was signed from AEK Athens for £5m this summer after the Scottish champions had failed to reach an agreement with Gordon over the terms of a new contract.

The Scotland internationalist, who has since returned to his former club Hearts, feels his successor has joined Celtic, who take on AC Milan in the Europa League tomorrow night, at a difficult time.

He reckons the 12-times capped 26-year-old has to be allowed to come to terms with both the on-field and off-field pressures of playing for Neil Lennon’s side in the momentous 2020/21 campaign.

“It must have be very hard for him coming into this country and into such a pressurised situation in this season of all seasons,” said Gordon.

“I definitely feel for him. I have always got sympathy for any goalie. He has had an awful lot to deal with in a very short space of time, he has been thrown in to this situation.

“Being goalkeeper at Celtic is a highly pressurised place to be, as anybody who has been in that position in the last however many years will tell you. You only get one or two big actions in every game and you have to be ready to respond.

“The scrutiny that a Celtic or Rangers goalkeeper is under in this country is huge, it is much more than at any other club. If you add on top of that the magnitude of this season and it is even more.

“The difficulty in being in that position at the moment, where every one error, if it costs a goal, if it costs a game, is pounced on, is magnified so much more this season.”

Gordon - speaking at the relaunch of the McDonald’s Fun Football programme, which will see the company provide over five million hours of free football to five to 11-year-olds by 2022, at Oriam outside Edinburgh - feels the loss of six players to coronavirus and injury cost Celtic dearly at the weekend.

But the 37-year-old, who helped the Parkhead club win five consecutive Scottish titles as well as three straight trebles, is confident they will respond the setback positively as their squad gets stronger.

“That (players being ruled out by Covid-19) is probably going to happen to most teams over the course of a season,” he said. “But it was the last thing that anybody to do with Celtic would have wanted to be facing going into that game like that against their biggest rivals.

“The timing couldn’t have been worse from that point of view. If it happened at any other time with lesser opposition they might have been able to win with a few players down. But when you’re playing your nearest rivals, who are in a great run of form, it is obviously going to be difficult for them.”

Gordon continued: “Celtic have responded to setbacks for a number of years now. Every time there has been a bad result, and bad results will happen at different points during a season, they have managed to bounce back.

“We will see if they are capable of doing it again. But history tells us that they have done it so often.”

Hearts and Scotland goalkeeper Craig Gordon was relaunching McDonald’s Fun Football programme, which offers fun, free and safe football sessions for children age 5-11. Find your nearest Fun Football Centre and to sign up for a session at: .