JAMES FORREST has pleaded to skipper Scott Brown not to quit Celtic at the end of the season.
The 33-year-old midfielder has been linked with a move to Australia or the USA with his contract due to expire in the summer.
Forrest, 27, believes the inspirational onfield leader, who joined the club in a £4.4million deal from Hibs in 2007, still has a massive role to play at Parkhead.
The Scotland international winger said: “Broony wants to play every game, every minute. When he got injured recently he came back and when you see him in training he is as fit as ever.
“He knows he can still do it for another couple of years and for a player like that we definitely need him.
“Everyone has their opinions, but inside the club, the players and staff, everyone knows how influential he is on and off the park.
“Since I came through he has always been the same and even now he could be the fittest he has ever been. It’s incredible how long he has done it and he still has a few years left in him.
“Broony has always been in and about it every day.
“He likes players, first and foremost, to work hard, give it everything and you earn his respect for doing that.
“But with Broony, everyone at the club knows just how big he is and everyone wants him to stay because he has a lot to offer for the team.”
Forrest added: “Ever since I have been here there have been different changing rooms and he has always been there while keeping everyone together. You maybe hear different stories from different teams, but Broony is massive in that part as well that people maybe don’t see.
“For me, he has always been the captain, the main man and if he did leave it definitely would be strange.
“He’s great with young boys and new signings, as well.
“Even when you go into the international set-up, he earns respect from everyone and that’s just credit to his nature. Off the park, too, everyone is full of respect for him.
”Obviously, I hope he does stay. I do not think any of the boys would ask him. They would just leave it to reading stuff.
“Are we interested to know? Yes, but, at the same time, maybe he is still deciding himself.
“He has options and the manager has come out and said he has earned the respect.
“It’s a big decision and maybe one he’s not going to make overnight. Whatever he does everyone will back him.
“Everyone knows he has been linked in the past six months. It’s up to him, but I hope he stays.”
Brown has struggled with a persistent hamstring injury since the start of the season and it forced him off during the 4-2 win over his former Edinburgh side at Parkhead on October 20.
Callum McGregor switched from his offensive position to adopt the anchorman role and was a revelation in the position.
There have been calls for the player to remain in Brown’s spot with some critics insisting he adds pace to the team’s build-ups.
However, Brown came back and won a League Cup medal to add to his silverware collection when he came on as a substitute in the 1-0 Betfred League Cup victory over Aberdeen last month.
Forrest hopes there are still many medals to come for his captain.