CELTIC No.2 John Kennedy has admitted the nine-in-a-row champions are looking to add “two or three” new players to the squad for the assault on the magical tenth successive title.
Neil Lennon’s trusted assistant manager is already planning for what could be a historic campaign, as CQN reported.
Hoops hero Chris Sutton, Martin O’Neill;s first buy for the club at £6million when he arrived from Chelsea in the summer of 2000, reckons his old club do not have to look too far for one of their targeted recruits.
The one-time England international striker, writing in his column in the Daily Record, said: “While it would be good for the team to sign quality players, there is one person who wouldn’t be a new face, but a familiar one that’s a matter of priority.
“And it belongs to Fraser Forster.
“For all the potential wheeling and dealing which could take place over the next couple of months if the transfer window gets up and running, the big keeper is an absolute must.
“If it takes all of the available transfer budget to get him, then so be it.
“We don’t know how the window is going to work and what the effects of Covid-19 are going to have on the finances at Parkhead or anywhere else in Scotland.
“But if Celtic are to get one deal done, it has to be the permanent capture of Forster.
“Actually, that’s not strictly true. Another one-season loan deal would suffice. Just as long as he’s between the sticks when season 2020/21 gets going, that’s all that matters.
“The Geordie giant has been absolutely brilliant for Celtic during both of his spells. It seems that Lennon or the club brings out the very best in him.
“Whatever it is, he needs to be there for the 10-in-a-row bid if at all possible.”
Sutton, now a top media pundit, added: “Lennon did not hesitate at the beginning of last season when it became clear that Forster could be available from Southampton.
“People raised eyebrows at the thought of Lennon raising the phone to his former No.1 because he’d been out for ages with serious injuries and then a spell of inactivity at St Mary’s.
“There were huge doubts. But it didn’t take long for them to be dispelled. Forster was straight back into the groove.
“He saved a penalty in his first game back against Hearts, kept a clean sheet at Ibrox in his next outing as Rangers were defeated and that just set the tone for the campaign ahead. Forster looked as though he had never been away from Glasgow and some of his performances were out of the top drawer.
“Centre-back Christopher Jullien said last week that he had never seen a goalkeeping performance like the one which his team-mate produced against Rangers in the Betfred Cup Final.
“Obviously, Jullien didn’t see him keep Barcelona at bay a few years back, but it’s hard to argue with the Frenchman’s assessment about the quality of the showing at Hampden.
“To prove the talent in Europe also remained in place, Forster was brilliant in two wins against Lazio.
“There is no doubt that looking behind you and seeing a colossus like him fill the goal when you are a Celtic defender must be a huge boost. Could you imagine Celtic going for ten and him not being there in goal?
“Lennon must surely not be contemplating that prospect and, if it is going to take a right few quid to get him in the door, then that’s how it is going to have to be.”
Southampton were linked with a move for Hoops midfielder Olivier Ntcham during the week, as CQN reported, and there was speculation Forster could be part of any possible deal.
The Saints, like all English clubs, are facing financial meltdown due to the coronavirus pandemic and will not have the resources to splash the cash as they have done in the past in luring Celtic stars such as Forster, Virgil van Dijk, Victor Wanyama and Stuart Armstrong to the south coast outfit.
So, it remains to be seen what will transpire, but there is little doubt in the mind of Sutton – and most Hoops supporters – that the towering keeper must be viewed as a priority signing.