Jamie Langfield may be desperate for Aberdeen to end Fraser Forster’s shut-out record when the clubs meet at Pittodrie tonight, but he is certain the Celtic goalkeeper’s form is worthy of a place in England’s World Cup squad.
Forster made history at Tynecastle on Saturday by overtaking Aberdeen legend Bobby Clark’s 43-year-old Scottish league record, extending it to a total of 1215 minutes.
He starts this evening’s intriguing match against the last team to score against him just 97 minutes shy of Edwin van der Sar’s British record that the former Netherlands international set with Manchester United.
The run has impressed the Pittodrie club’s current goalkeeper, although Langfield is only too aware of those queuing up to denigrate the significance of the achievement because of their negative view of Scottish football.
What really frustrates Langfield though, are those who question his Celtic counterpart’s worthiness of a place in Roy Hodgson’s England squad for this summer’s World Cup finals.
Having kept 17 cleans sheets himself this season, he believes it is time the snipers recognised Forster’s abilities and the fact he deserves a seat on the plane for Brazil. He said: “Fraser’s a top guy and a top-class goalkeeper who has come in and done well up here. He is right up there with the best. Celtic always seem to produce good goalkeepers and every time I play against him he has great games.
“He has done it at Scottish level and at the highest possible level in the Champions League and is now getting the international recognition he certainly does deserve.
“People keep on saying ‘Oh it’s just the Scottish league he’s playing in’, but that has got nothing to do with anything.
“He played against some of the best players in the world when facing the likes of Barcelona and his performances have been exceptional against top teams in Europe. Now he’s set a quite incredible long-standing record in league football and he deserves every accolade that he gets. Of course we were a bit gutted for Bobby Clark that Fraser took his record as Bobby is rightly a legend at Aberdeen.
“It is a remarkable achievement for him and he’s looking to go for the British record now which would be amazing, but hopefully we can bring that to an end at Pittodrie.”
Aberdeen striker Niall McGinn was the last player to score a league goal against Celtic three months ago.
Of course, the Dons also put two past Forster earlier this month to knock Neil Lennon’s side out of the Scottish Cup. That was their first win against Celtic in any competition since Jimmy Calderwood’s side beat them 4-2 in the league at Pittodrie six years ago. Langfield played in that one but Aberdeen have picked up just two points from the 16 league clashes since.
Tonight they have the chance to change that by ending Forster’s run and becoming the first team to beat the runaway leaders in league this season.
The Dons goalkeeper also knows there is the added incentive of making amends for the disappointing weekend defeat at Firhill.
He added: “The result on Saturday was very disappointing, but until Partick scored we were the better team and created a lot of chances. It was just one of those games where everything which could go wrong did go wrong but we’re fortunate we have a big game like this coming around quickly to pick ourselves up. We are certainly looking forward to playing Celtic again as there was a real belief in the team we could go and do something the last time we met.
“Neil Lennon has said it was the best we have played down there in a long time when we beat them in the cup.”
On-loan Brentford defender Shay Logan faces a fitness test on the groin strain that kept him out of the Firhill defeat. Ryan Jack and Clark Robertson are still sidelined but manager Derek McInnes believes he has the players capable of getting another win to savour.
That confidence is boosted by the form of Adam Rooney, who has scored in four of his five games since signing from Oldham last month. The only time he has failed to hit the target was against Celtic in the Scottish Cup but his boss is hoping he can put that right tonight.
McInnes said: “It’s always important for any striker to score his first goal for the club but Adam’s come in and hit the ground running. He has been a constant threat in every game that we have played so far. He is confident going on to the pitch and backs himself to score, but we have players who can cause any teams problems in an attacking sense.”