Falkirk boss Paul Hartley predicts ‘bright future’ for Northern Irish youngster Conor Hazard after signing Celtic keeper on loan

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PAUL HARTLEY has predicted a bright future for Celtic youngster Conor Hazard after snapping up the highly-rated keeper on loan for the rest of the season.

The Falkirk manager returned to his old club to recruit the 19-year-old, who signed a new four-year deal with the Scottish champions in the summer.

The Northern Irishman spent the first half of the campaign as Brendan Rodgers’ third choice between the sticks and was on the bench for the Hoops for home wins over Dundee and Partick Thistle.

And Hartley is convinced he has signed a star of the future after adding the imposing 6’6’’ goalie to his squad to fight for a starting spot with Robbie Thomson and Robbie Mutch.

The Bairns boss, who is poised to name a number two following the departure of Jimmy Nicholl for Rangers earlier this month, said: “We just felt we needed a little bit more competition in the group and when he became available we felt we had to bring him in.

“We have to make sure we’re strong between now and the end of the season.

“With David Mitchell still injured, we only really had two fit goalkeepers and if anything had happened to one of them we would have been left short.

“We felt we needed to get another one in and he was highly recommended by Brendan and Celtic.

“He’s got a bright future ahead of him and we’re delighted to bring Conor in.

ENTHUSIASTIC

“I have spoken with Brendan Rodgers at length over Conor and I know just how highly thought of he is at Celtic Park.

“This is a move that will hopefully benefit all parties as I know that both Conor and Celtic were keen that he went out on loan to gain some valuable first-team experience.

“He is extremely enthusiastic about coming here and I look forward to working with him.”

Despite finding himself on the fringes of the Celtic first-team this season, Hazard is happy to have the chance to build up his top-team knowhow with the Bairns.

He said: “It’s great to be here. This is my first time out on loan and my first time in senior football so I am really looking forward to showing everyone what I can do.

“I came here to try and get first-team experience, but it’s up to me now to work hard and show the manager that I deserve to play.”

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