Hladky aims for a les­son from ‘leg­end’

Scottish Daily Mail - - Football - By ISAAN KHAN

VA­CLAV HLADKY has carved a rep­u­ta­tion as one of the most re­li­able goal­keep­ers in the top flight but tonight he wants to learn from a ‘leg­end’.

The 28-year-old Czech watched in awe as Fraser Forster re­in­forced his cre­den­tials with a string of saves in last week’s Europa League Group E win over Lazio.

Back at Celtic on loan from Southamp­ton, the English­man has ex­pressed his de­sire to make the move per­ma­nent and force his way back into in­ter­na­tional reck­on­ing.

Such a sce­nario is warmly wel­comed by Hladky, who will keep an eye on his op­po­site num­ber — de­spite ex­pect­ing to be the busier of the two this evening.

‘Fraser is a fan­tas­tic goal­keeper. I knew him years ago when he played at Celtic and it’s a big deal for them to have him,’ said Hladky.

‘I want to learn from him as he’s a leg­end. He is a bit dif­fer­ent from me as he has a dif­fer­ent style. There are a lot of things I can learn from him.’

Celtic are in a rich run of goalscor­ing form with four goals in a first-half de­struc­tion of Aberdeen on Sun­day just the most re­cent ex­am­ple of their ruth­less streak.

Hladky ex­pects more of the same tonight but is de­ter­mined to of­fer a more rigid bar­rier to re­pel the cham­pi­ons’ ad­vances.

‘I’m go­ing to be a busy man but that suits me,’ he said. ‘I’m look­ing for­ward to it.

‘For ev­ery­one at St Mir­ren, it’s a big game. We know it’s dif­fi­cult to play there be­cause the level of the play­ers at Celtic is so high.

‘We’re ready to ac­cept the chal­lenge and try to do what we can do best.

‘I watched Celtic against Aberdeen and, at half-time, it was enough as it was so crazy. Celtic were so, so good and the re­sult speaks for it­self.

‘When I was watch­ing it, I knew Wed­nes­day would be a busy time for me but that’s al­ways the case against Celtic.’

Any sug­ges­tion of nerves due to Celtic’s for­mi­da­ble form go­ing into the match are firmly bat­ted away by the Czech keeper.

‘I’m not ner­vous, why should I be?’ he asked. ‘It’s only foot­ball and these games are about your per­for­mance and to do the best you can. So I’m not ner­vous.

‘Celtic is a bit dif­fer­ent from a nor­mal league game. It’s a big­ger sta­dium and one of the nicer sta­di­ums in Scot­land.

‘It’s a great time for me and for the club as well, so we are only look­ing for­ward to it.

‘Ev­ery­one ex­pects Celtic to win by five or six goals, so for us it’s just about do­ing our work the best we can. Then we can hope to get a good re­sult.’

Look­ing to the fu­ture, Hladky be­lieves he can raise the level of his game fur­ther.

A num­ber of clubs, in­clud­ing Azer­bai­jani cham­pi­ons Qarabag, were in­ter­ested in the Czech over the sum­mer and Saints man­ager Jim Good­win re­vealed yes­ter­day a sec­ond con­tract of­fer is likely to be of­fered as they fight to keep him in Pais­ley.

‘It’s about hard work ev­ery day, it’s as sim­ple as that and to play well match to match,’ said Hladky.

‘I need to work without mis­takes and to take my level higher and higher.

‘I have that con­fi­dence, ev­ery­one can see it’s get­ting bet­ter and bet­ter as I now have lots of games be­hind me. Ev­ery­one feels more con­fi­dent the more they play.’

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