Noel Whelan has claimed Celtic have secured the “best possible Christmas present” by keeping Fraser Forster for the rest of the season.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the ex-Aberdeen and Leeds United striker explained how the Scottish champions have secured a “huge” coup by not losing their loan star back to Southampton.
Manager Ralph Hasenhuttl has ruled out recalling Forster in the January window next month as he is happy with current number one Alex McCarthy and deputy Angus Gunn.
Southampton climbed three points clear of the relegation zone by winning 3-1 at Aston Villa on Saturday as McCarthy started his eighth consecutive league match in goal.
Forster has revived his career with some outstanding displays since joining Celtic on a season-long loan in August, including a memorable display to secure a 1-0 win in the Scottish League Cup final.
“I can’t understand why Fraser Forster is not in the Southampton team,” Whelan told Football Insider. “He’s an outstanding keeper and has proved that at Celtic this season.
“He is in the running for an England recall and I would imagine Jordan Pickford is watching him over his shoulder and starting to get a bit nervous about his place.
“Credit for Neil Lennon for getting Forster back when Scott Bain got injured. It’s proved to be a masterstroke and keeping hold of him for the rest of the season is huge and the best possible Christmas present for the club.
“There’s no doubt Fraser Forster can be a massive influence for the rest of the season.”
Forster has made 23 appearances for the Hoops since his return, keeping 11 clean sheets and conceding just 14 goals.
He helped extend Celtic’s league winning run on Saturday as they defeated Aberdeen 2-1 at Parkhead.
In other Celtic news, it can be REVEALED that Brendan Rodgers is ready to blow his former club out of the water to sign 6ft 4in colossus in January.