Celtic will be “scared” of growing Premier League interest in matchwinning winger James Forrest.

That is according to ex-Aberdeen and Leeds United striker Noel Whelan as he spoke to Football Insider about the growing influence of the 28-year-old.

He is convinced the consistent excellence of last season’s Scottish Player of the Year winner has alerted top clubs south of the border.

And this would have been instrumental in Celtic rewarding their academy product over the past month with a new and improved contract securing him until 2023.

“Celtic have some top players they need to tie down and keep happy,” Whelan told Football Insider. “They are a top club who do things the right way.

“Celtic look after their top players. Neil Lennon and the board regard James Forrest as a key asset and a top commodity, and that’s why they extended his contract.

“They want to reward him, and they are scared of interest from the Premier League giants.

“He is flying with Celtic and Scotland, and there has to be something pretty amazing to tempt him away.

“Are you going to swap Celtic for a mid-table Premier League club when Celtic can offer European football every season and the chance to play in front of 50,000 every other week?

“Unless a top-six club comes in for him, Forrest is better off staying at Celtic.”

Forrest has been one of Celtic’s outstanding performers during their remarkable run of three consecutive trebles, which has included eight league titles in a row.

He won the PFA player of the year, Premiership player of the year and Football Writers’ player of the year at the end of last season in which he scored 18 goals and assisted with 20 in his 56 appearances.

He has maintained that level in this campaign with 11 goals and 12 assists from 25 matches in all competitions.

In other Celtic news, it can be REVEALED that the club are in the hunt to sign 6ft 4in giant from English club.