NEIL Lennon tonight confirmed that Vasilis Barkas will start for Celtic in their crucial Premiership match against Rangers at Ibrox on Saturday.

Greek goalkeeper Barkas returned to action this afternoon and helped the Scottish champions to keep a clean sheet in a 3-0 win over Dundee United at Parkhead.

It was the first game the £5m signing, who has struggled to find form since moving to Scotland in the summer, had played in over three weeks.

But Lennon, whose team is 16 points behind Steven Gerrard’s side with three games in hand, is poised to give him to nod ahead of Scott Bain and Conor Hazard this weekend.

Northern Ireland internationalist Hazard played in the Scottish Cup final win over Hearts earlier this month and saved two penalties in a shoot-out as Celtic won and clinched the quadruple treble.

However, his manager feels that Barkas’s experience between the sticks could be invaluable in the meeting with the top flight leaders.    

“We’ve got big games coming up and I want Vasilis to play in them,” he said. “He’s 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.”

Meanwhile, Lennon admitted that Christopher Jullien, the French centre half who was stretchered off injured in the second-half of the United game, is a doubt for the Rangers match.  

“We’ll need to see how he is,” he said. “He’s impacted the knee on the post, it’s quite a heavy one. At the moment there’s a bit of swelling there, but just now I’m 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 for us. They are in great form and they have been all season. It’s a great challenge for us, but we’re starting to find good consistency as well and I want to take that into the game on Saturday and get a good result.”

The victory over United, secured thanks to first-half goals from Ismaila Soro and Davd Turnbull and a second-half strike from Odsonne Edouard, stretched Celtic’s winning run to six games.

Lennon admitted he was particularly pleased with the performances of Soro and Turnbull, who look set to start against Rangers ahead of Scott Brown and Tom Rogic, in midfield.   

“It sets us up very nicely for the weekend,” he said. “Ismaila played very well and the goal’s a bonus. I’m just pleased with the way he’s handling the game at the minute and his use of the ball.

“His passing is very crisp and clean and he’s played very well since he came into the team. As has David Turnbull, another goal from him today. All round, it’s been a good day, apart from losing Christopher.”