Former Scottish Premiership striker Noel Whelan has praised Celtic manager Neil Lennon for his “masterstroke” in signing Fraser Forster on loan this season.
The Hoops were recently boosted by the declaration from Ralph Hasenhuttl, the manager of Forster’s parent club Southampton, that the English Premier League side would not seek to recall him from his season-long loan at Parkhead next month (as per Sky Sports).
Speaking to Football Insider, Whelan described that development as “the best possible Christmas present” for Celtic and sung the praises of the 31-year-old goalkeeper.
“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.”
Considering how excellently Forster has performed for Celtic during his loan spell this season, it’s no wonder that Whelan has been waxing lyrical about Lennon for securing the services of the goalkeeper.
In 23 games for the Hoops since joining them on loan in August, he has kept 11 clean sheets (47.8% of games) and conceded just 14 goals (0.61 per game). [via TransferMarkt]
His record in the Premiership has been excellent, with only eight goals going past him in 16 league games (0.5 per game), one fewer than what Southampton goalkeeper Angus Gunn shipped on one night against Leicester a couple of months ago.
On that comparison alone, Whelan has every right to be surprised that Hasenhuttl nixed the possibility of a January recall for the 31-year-old.
It isn’t just the numbers that have reflected greatly on Forster, either. The England international has produced outstanding saves on big occasions for Celtic this season, making an incredible 95th-minute stop in the 2-1 home win over Lazio in the Europa League (as per The Scotsman).
He also made a succession of saves in the recent Betfred Cup final victory over Rangers, including one from an Alfredo Morelos penalty (as per BBC).
As Whelan has said, Lennon pulled off a fantastic coup by capturing Forster on loan for the season and Celtic should be helped greatly by Hasenhuttl’s decision to let him remain in Glasgow for the remainder of the campaign as they vie with Rangers for Premiership supremacy.
Celtic fans, what do you make of Whelan’s views on Forster? Are you surprised that Hasenhuttl has ruled out a loan recall for him? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
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