Fraser Forster’s England ambitions concern Lennon

CELTIC goalkeeper Fraser Forster’s omission from the latest England squad has left his manager Neil Lennon fearful that the player’s long-term international chances could be looked upon unfavourably by the English hierarchy as a result of his playing in Scotland.

Fraser Forster. Picture: Robert Perry
Fraser Forster. Picture: Robert Perry

Forster, pictured below, was called up on the back of some superb performances in the Champions League but, after a spell sidelined with a back injury, has not been in Roy Hodgson’s set-up since Celtic’s exit from the competition.

The hulking keeper, who made his move to Scotland permanent in a £2 million deal last summer, has been linked with a return to his home country.

“It is a concern,” said Lennon of his keeper’s absence for the home friendly against the Republic of Ireland a week on Wednesday. “I don’t pick the England squad but I am disappointed for him. They’ll have their reasons for it and I don’t think there is any harm in a friendly having a look at another goalkeeper. He [Forster] has a cup final here to concentrate on and that is plenty for him to look forward to. In terms of his England prospects, I’m not convinced it has done any serious damage to him but I am worried that people may feel he has to go and play at a higher level to maintain his spot in the England squad. That is a concern for me and that is the reality.

“He has shown the calibre of goalkeeper that he is and [England] know what he is like and know what he can do. Maybe they feel he has to play at a higher level on a more consistent basis and we’ve got to try and give him that with Champions League qualification next season.”

The ability to hit that lofty target is what accounts for team-mate Joe Ledley’s contentment at Celtic. About to enter the final year of his current four-season deal, the Welshman, pictured below, is no hurry to swap Scotland for England.

“It’s a great city and a great club. I’m very happy here,” he said. “I get on well with the coaching staff and the players. I’ve been here three years and I fell in love with the club as soon as I came up to take a look at it. I knew I’d be here for a long time. It’s a massive club. That’s why I signed a long deal.

“The Champions League is the best competition in the world to play in. You don’t really want to go to the Premiership to play for a team that’s struggling week-in, week-out. There’s no fun in that. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fantastic league and hopefully one day I will play in it. But the Champions League is a much better place to be than fighting in the relegation zone.”

Celtic round off their successful SPL campaign today against Dundee United at Tannadice and the home side could be without striker Johnny Russell, who is feeling stiff after his return from a broken leg.

Long-term absentees Gavin Gunning and Sean Dillon are still missing for United but Keith Watson and Barry Douglas could be in contention after injury.