FRASER FORSTER left Celtic with a massive problem when he rejected a loan extension as Neil Lennon planned for the historic 10-in-a-row campaign.

The England international keeper looked poised to agree another temporary contract before deciding to remain at Southampton, as CQN had warned back in July 2020.

Forster had become a massive favourite with the Hoops faithful and played a vital part in the club’s continued success, especially with his heroics in the 1-0 League Cup Final triumph over Steven Gerrard’s Ibrox side which was topped off with a brilliant penalty-kick save from Alfredo Morelos.

It looked certain he would be back at Parkhead for one of the most crucial campaigns in the club’s history – until he pulled the plug at the eleventh hour, as club supremo Dermot Desmond has revealed in an exclusive interview on Celtic TV.

REVEALING…Celtic supremo Dermot Desmond tells all in Celtic TV interview.

The Irish billionaire businessman believed deals were in place for both Southampton players, Mohamed Elyounoussi and Forster.

The Norwegian international left-sided attacker was happy to return for a second spell in Glasgow, but Forster, with two years of his deal to run at the south coast, decided to stay put.

Club chief Desmond said: “We wanted to retain the players we had on loan, Elyounoussi and Forster, both deals looked to be done.

“Unfortunately, Fraser Forster decided last minute to stay at Southampton. In the interim, we let Craig Gordon go, that was the start of a little bit of the challenges we faced.

“Now we were in need of replacing a goalkeeper to replace Fraser Forster and Craig Gordon.“

HAMPDEN HERO…Fraser Forster after his heroics in the 2019 League Cup Final.

The Scotland international No.1 had been allowed to leave at the end of his deal to return to former side Hearts who were then in the Championship.

After Forster’s about-turn, Lennon had to play Scott Bain in the opening Premiership game of the season – a 5-1 home win over Hamilton Accies – before the £4.5million move for AEK Athens’ Vasilis Barkas was rubber-stamped.

The Greek international made his debut a week later in the 1-1 draw with Kilmarnock at Rugby Park and did not look convincing from day one of his Hoops career.

ON HIS WAY…Craig Gordon was allowed to leave at the end of his contract.

FALL GUY…Vasilis Barkas looks unconvincing as Ferencvaros score the goal that ended the Champions League hopes.

Lennon was forced to play Irish rookie Connor Hazard in the delayed Scottish Cup Final against the Tynecastle outfit – with Gordon in goal – in December 2020 with the quadruple treble up for grabs.

The game was tied 3-3 after extra-time, but the youngster made two splendid saves in the penalty-kick shoot-out and Kristoffer Ajer rammed in the decisive kick to claim Celtic’s 12th successive domestic trophy.

Barkas has made only two competitive games since Ange Postecoglou took over in June last year and will be on his way in the summer.

Bain is now back-up to Joe Hart while Hazard has agreed a loan switch to Finish outfit HJK Helsinki.

Thankfully, it looks as though the 34-year-old 75 times-capped England netminder has solved the No.1 problem after arriving on a three-year contract from Spurs in August.

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