Celtic goalkeeper Conor Hazard joins HJK Helsinki on year-long loan deal, while Hoops risk losing Tom Rogic for Old Firm clash

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Celtic goalkeeper Conor Hazard has left Parkhead to join HJK Helsinki on a year-long loan deal.

The three-time capped Northern Ireland international has agreed to move to the Finnish outfit as he searches for regular first-team football.

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Hazard made his Hoops debut in the 3-2 Europa League win over Ligue 1 side Lille in December 2020 and has gone on to make seven appearances, keeping four clean sheets.

Conor Hazard has left Celtic on loan. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)

The 23-year-old played a starring role in the club’s 2019/20 Scottish Cup Final win over Hearts, saving two penalties during the shootout to help secure the Quadruple Treble.

Hazard currently finds himself behind Joe Hart, Scott Bain and Vasilis Barkas in the pecking order at Parkhead and with his game-time severely limited of late, he will now aim to impress at the Veikkausliga champions over the next 12 months.

Helsinki, where Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos joined the Ibrox club from, are bidding to lift the league title for a third successive season and Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou reckons the experience will benefit Hazard.

He told the Celtic website: “We are sure this move will be good for Conor, it will be an important opportunity for game-time and I know he will embrace this next period.

“In HJK Helsinki we believe it will be a great environment for him. I know HJK and Celtic have enjoyed good co-operation before and I think the loan period will be very positive for everyone concerned.

“We wish Conor the very best.”

Commenting on the move, Hazard said: “When I first heard about the move, I was told that Helsinki is such a beautiful place to live.

“HJK are one of the biggest clubs in Finland, so it was a great opportunity for me to come here and show what I can do.

“I’m honoured to be at such an amazing club. The club expects big things this year and I can’t wait to get started.”

Hazard gained previous first-team experience during loan spells at Falkirk, Partick Thistle and Dundee in recent seasons.

Meanwhile, Celtic midfielder Tom Rogic is expected to be named in the Australian national team squad by head coach Graham Arnold on Thursday, which would likely rule him out of the Old Firm clash against Rangers on February 2.

As it stand, Tom Rogic appears the only player Celtic seem certain to lose for the Rangers derby through international inclusion. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)

The Socceroos face crucial World Cup qualifiers against Vietnam on January 27 and Oman on February 1 in their bid to reach the 2022 finals in Qatar.

Rogic’s absence could be a major blow to Hoops boss Postecoglou considering he is set to be without three of his Japanese stars, including Kyogo Furuhashi who is struggling for fitness.

Speaking to Go Radio, Arnold stated he needs his best players available for the upcoming matches, with Hibernian playmaker Martin Boyle also certain to feature.

He explained: “It’s not easy always for a national team coach, especially through this time where it’s not a FIFA window in Europe.

“It’s a FIFA ruling, it’s an emergency window they’ve put in for the Asian Nations, CONMEBOL and the African Nations Cup, to get finished.

“I need my best players and the best players Tommy Rogic is one of them and Martin Boyle is too from Hibs.

“I’ve still got to do the final selection of the squad but these two World Cup qualifiers, two very important games, and I need my best players.”