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FORSTER: MINUTES ARE TICKING, BUT NEW SNAG APPEARS

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FRASER FORSTER was again stuck on the substitutes’ bench as Southampton beat Brighton 2-1 at the Amex last night.

The one-time England international goalkeeper has not played a solitary minute for the south coast team since knocking back the opportunity of a second successive loan deal at Celtic in the summer.

However, Forster, a Hoops fans’ favourite after becoming a key man in last season’s ninth successive title triumph plus his heroics in the Betfred League Cup Final victory, could be back on the Parkhead side’s radar when next month’s transfer window reopens, as CQN reported.

The towering shotstopper still has one-and-a-half years of a lucrative £92,000-per-week contract to run at the Saints, but must be growing frustrated at the lack of game-time at the club with Alex McCarthy the man in charge.

The minutes could be ticking down to a return to Glasgow where Scotland’s title kings have struggled to find a settled No.1 with £4.5million Vasilis Barkas looking unconvincing since his arrival and Scott Bain, No.3 in the pecking order last term, also looking less than impressive.

However, Neil Lennon could hit a snag in any proposed move for 32-year-old Forster. Boss Ralph Hasenhuttl will be in no rush to allow his skyscraper netminder to quit the club, despite his lack of first-team appearances.

The Austrian gaffer gave the go-ahead to England Under-21 international Angus Gunn to join Stoke City on a temporary transfer in the pre-season.

If Forster follows him through the exit, it will leave the Southampton gaffer with only the inexperienced Harry Lewis, 22, as back-up to McCarthy.

Forster is believed to have rejected the opportunity to come back to Celtic after being linked with Chelsea. However, any hopes of a shift to Stamford Bridge were ended when Frank Lampard spent £22million on Rennes’ Edouard Mendy.

Now the 6ft-plus six times-capped international is being linked once again to Parkhead where he has enjoyed the best days of his career.

The lure of first-team football could see a deal brokered – but only if Hasenhuttl is satisfied with the qualities of Lewis.

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