By Wayne Veysey

3rd Dec, 2021 | 9:35am

Sources: Nottingham Forest in Celtic transfer mission as they work on beating Rangers to Souttar deal in January

Nottingham Forest have stepped up their pursuit of John Souttar by dispatching scouts to watch him play for Hearts against Celtic on Thursday night, Football Insider can exclusively reveal.

The Scotland international defender has made a fine start to the season for club and country, and impressed once again in his team’s 1-0 defeat at Parkhead.

A recruitment source has told Football Insider that Forest’s midweek transfer mission at Parkhead is the latest step in their bid to lure Souttar, 25, in the January window.

Rangers and Stoke City are also keeping tabs on the centre-back as they look to strengthen in the upcoming window.

Forest are weighing up a move for Souttar, who is out of contract at the end of the season and has snubbed attempts by Hearts to secure him to a new deal.

The Edinburgh outfit could be forced to cash in on him in January rather than lose him for nothing at the end of the season.

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Football Insider first revealed Forest’s interest in Souttar on 16 November as they look to recruit a new centre-back in January.

The Championship big guns are 16th in the division – eight points adrift of sixth spot – after conceding 23 goals in their 20 league matches to date.

Souttar has taken his game to a new level this season.

He has made 18 appearances for Hearts in all competitions – all of which have been starts – and weighed in with three goals from his defensive position.

Most memorably of all, Souttar gave Scotland’s World Cup dream a huge boost last month by heading in the all-important first goal in their memorable 2-0 win against Denmark to secure a play-off spot.

In other news, “hitch” in Celtic bid to sign Carter-Vickers explained.