By Noel Whelan

12th Dec, 2019 | 8:30pm

Exclusive: Whelan left 'Stunned' by Celtic player development today

Noel Whelan can’t believe Southampton are sticking by their position over Celtic cup final hero Fraser Forster.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the ex-Aberdeen and Leeds United striker is “stunned” there is no place for the “world class” goalkeeper at St Mary’s Stadium.

Manager Ralph Hasenhuttl today ruled out recalling Forster from his season-long loan at Celtic in the January window as he insisted he was happy with current number one Alex McCarthy and deputy Angus Gunn.

The Scottish champions took advantage of Forster being third in the Saints pecking order in goal by signing him in August for the 2019-20 campaign.

It has proved to be a masterstroke. Forster has revived his career with some outstanding displays and almost singlehandedly denied Rangers in the Scottish League Cup final with a man-of-the-match performance that secured a 1-0 triumph for Neil Lennon’s side.

“The big question is why did Southampton left him go,” Whelan told Football Insider. “Why is he not in the Southampton side? I’m stunned he’s not and they’re willing to loan him out for the season when fighting relegation.

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“Are McCarthy and Gunn better than Fraser Forster? No. We’ve seen him produce a world-class performance in the cup final and he’s been like that all season.

“On the basis of that kind of performance, Gareth Southgate will be recalling him to the England squad. There’s no way he won’t.

“Southgate will be watching him closely over the coming months. Jordan Pickford will be looking over his shoulder as well.”

Forster has made 20 appearances for the Hoops since his return, keeping eight clean sheets and conceding just 13 goals.

He was rested from the squad for tonight’s Europa League group stage clash against CFR Cluj as Lennon fielded a weakened line-up with his side already qualified.

In other Celtic news, it can be REVEALED that Nicky Hammond has laid down law to £10m+ valued Hoops star in transfer showdown.