FRASER Forster has admitted that he will need “to wait and see what happens in the next few days” with regards to his future, and whether it lies with Celtic or elsewhere.
The goalkeeper was talking following the rousing 3-0 play-off victory over Shakhter Karagandy that secured another six Champions League games, with Celtic now having learned they will take on the might of Barcelona, AC Milan and Ajax.
Yesterday’s draw might have helped firm up Forster’s desire to stay with the Scottish champions. Benfica, one of the clubs reported to be interested in him, have been drawn in a not-quite-so attractive group along with Paris St Germain, Olympiakos and Anderlecht. Should he move to England, it is unlikely to be to one of the clubs who can look forward to Champions League participation.
Forster has also to be conscious of his England prospects, having just been recalled to the squad for the forthcoming games against Moldova and Ukraine after Ben Foster sustained an injury. Forster’s ambition to be included in Roy Hodgson’s squad for next summer’s World Cup finals in Brazil, should England get there, can only be boosted by the guarantee of Champions League involvement in the coming months.
“It will be a case of wait and see what happens,” said Forster, when asked about his future. “We have talked about Champions League football and how it is crucial for the lads and there is the opportunity to test yourself against the best players.”
Having been drawn against teams possessing fearsome firepower in the likes of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Mario Balotelli, the last thing Celtic manager Neil Lennon will want is to lose his first-choice goalkeeper.
Forster did what he had to do on Wednesday evening when keeping a clean sheet against Shakhter. He admitted he wasn’t sure how being knocked out of the competition would have impacted on his own future. “I am obviously a Celtic player at the minute and we will have to see what happens over the next few days,” he said.
“There has obviously been a bit of talk about Benfica and stuff like that,” he added. “It is one of them [good dilemmas] – it is nice having clubs come in for you because it means that you are doing well but we will just have to see.”
“I have no idea,” he replied, when asked whether he knew if anything was happening in the background. “It is all about tonight and it has been a fantastic result and it is brilliant to be back in the Champions League.
“We have a fantastic group of players and the lads have given 100 per cent and worked for each other. I think you can really see the team spirit among the lads. It is a fantastic night for everyone and it is brilliant for the manager and coaching staff because it is exactly what they deserve.”
Forster admitted it would be “very difficult” to walk away from Celtic. “I have said that from the moment I walked in the door,” he said.
“It’s been brilliant. I have seen nothing like Champions League nights here. The fans tonight have shown that. It is a fantastic club to play for and the fans were the 12th man [against Shakhter] and that was what we needed. They helped us massively during the course of last season too.”
Qualification for the Champions League capped a satisfying few days for Forster, whose return to the England set-up means he can again seek to impress Hodgson. The 25 year-old goalkeeper was excluded from the squad to face Scotland at Wembley earlier this month. However, the injury to West Bromwich Albion’s Foster has given the Celtic keeper another opportunity to establish himself in the squad, with doubts still remaining about current No 1 Joe Hart’s position, after several high-profile blunders.
“I am happy with my England call-up and it gives me something to look forward to next week,” said Forster.
“It encourages me to keep working hard and trying to improve. That is what it is all about. It is a World Cup year at the end of the season and every English player wants to be on that plane.
“You keep doing as much as you can and playing in the Champions League can only benefit me going towards that.
“I have been fortunate to get the chance because Ben Foster has picked up an injury.
“I just have to go and show what I can do.”