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How Neil Lennon’s star signing improved in exile

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Pat Bonner believes that Fraser Forster is a better keeper than the one Celtic sold to Southampton in 2014 for £12m.

Despite having two Scotland keepers at the club Neil Lennon brought Forster in on loan at the end of August with the move working out perfectly for the player and club.

After 18 months out in the cold the former England keeper has revelled in the return to action with outstanding displays in the Europa League and the pivotal role in Celtic’s League Cup Final success.

Celtic have acquired someone that already knew the club, a keeper with a point to prove and someone that has helped bring out the best in central defenders Chris Jullien and Kris Ajer.

Forster’s long term future is a complex matter with more than two years to run on his lucrative Southampton contract but for the rest of this season at least Lennon has the keeper he wants to anchor his side.

Discussing Forster with The Scotsman Bonner said:

Fraser makes the big saves. He’s a big personality now that he’s come into the team. I talked with Neil Lennon in the past about what does he want as a goalkeeper and he likes a big and imposing guy.

Fraser is an immense presence. He doesn’t come out for many crosses given his size, but I think he has really improved his work with his feet. Since he’s been down in England, he seems to have learned and got better with that, even if he’s never going to be brilliant at it

But he makes the big saves at the big times and I admit he’s actually done even better than I thought he would since coming back. When he signed for Celtic the first time around, he was a big goalkeeper, but seemed a little bit sluggish and slow. He seemed to do a lot of work on his speed and movement and he turned out to be very good.

Having been away from Celtic for such a long time and missed a lot of football during the latter stages of his time at Southampton, I wondered if he might have lost a bit of that speed with his lay-offs but he’s still got it and that’s the critical factor for him because he is such a big guy.

Yes he’s tall, but that’s not enough for a keeper, you need momentum and quickness. All of that stuff is part of the package. I think it’s also very important that he enjoys being at Celtic. He feels that people respect him and value him.

Forster’s form with Celtic will have provided English clubs of a reminder of his ability but there are very few English keepers playing in the EPL.

Southampton will ultimately decide the future of their player but over the next five months Forster’s only focus will be delivering more success for Celtic.

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