NEIL LENNON welcomed back former keeper Fraser Forster following the completion of his season-long loan deal from Southampton last night.
With Scott Bain out for at least a month with a dislocated thumb, the Hoops boss was left with only Craig Gordon as his established last line of defence.
Lennon, speaking to the Daily Mail, said: “We were a goalkeeper down and the opportunity came about to get Fraser back. I am delighted we have acquired his services.
‘He is an outstanding goalkeeper, so I have three outstanding goalkeepers now and it’s a department that is very important. We have strong competition and that’s what I want.
‘He has missed out on a little bit of football in the last year or so, but we know of his talent. He had an outstanding time here, he is a Premier League goalkeeper and is itching to play.
‘He gives you that presence in goal which is unique. He was outstanding for me the first time and I hope he replicates that the second time.’
Thirty-one-year-old Forster, who has requested the number 67 shirt for the campaign, was originally signed by Lennon in a £2million deal from Newcastle in 2012 after two successful temporary deals.
He quit to return to England two years later for five times that amount and played a total of six times for his country.
Lennon added: “He gave me a hug in the doctor’s room, I think I came up to about his navel – he looks like he’s got bigger!
Asked who would be his first-choice shotstopper when all three netminders are fit, the Irishman answered: “Mind your own business!”
Forster was in the Parkhead stand to watch the Hoops overcome AIK Stockholm with goals from James Forrest and Odsonne Edouard in the first leg of their Europa League play-off.
GREG TAYLOR has had a £3million price tag slapped on him by Kilmarnock which could scare off Celtic who have been linked with the left-back throughout the summer.
Neil Lennon paid the identical amount to Rapid Vienna for Boli Bolingoli in his search for replacements for the problem No.3 position following the double exit of Kieran Tierney, a record-breaking £25million to Arsenal, and Emilio Izaguirre, who returned to Honduras at the end of his contract.
Killie boss Angelo Alessio has made it clear he doesn’t want Taylor to leave the Rugby Park outfit and the club will want massive compensation if he does move on.
Lennon has until a week on Monday to ponder about solutions for both full-back areas, despite bringing in right-sided defender Hatem Abd Elhamed, from Israeli outfit Hapoel Be’er Sheva for £1.2million last month.
Coincidentally, the Hoops gaffer has also been linked with Taylor’s Killie back-four partner Stephen O’Donnell who is out of contract at the end of the season.
GREGG WYLDE, who signed an 18-month contract when he arrived from Plymouth in January, has been told he can leave Livingston.
The former Rangers winger has started just one game and only featured for the club’s colts team against Formartine United this season.
Now Livi boss Gary Holt has revealed Wylde, 28, is available to leave.
Speaking to The Sun, he said: “Gregg is free to leave – simple as that. He’s been training and playing with the reserves and part of that.
“I’ve said before when you sign players you won’t get them all right.
“We played a system that maybe doesn’t suit Gregg – a 3-5-2 mostly. I don’t think it helps he’s a natural winger.
“We’ve told Gregg he isn’t going to get much game-time here so he can go.
“He works hard and does his job, but I don’t see him playing and I don’t want to keep people here for the sake of it.
“I’m honest with people and Gregg has the opportunity to go elsewhere if he wants to. Otherwise, he’ll be in training with the reserves until he does leave.”
DEREK McINNES reckons James Wilson can be the ‘new’ Ryan Christie at Aberdeen.
The Dons boss believes a new role in the team will work wonders for the former Manchester United striker who agreed a two-year deal in the summer after a successful loan period.
McInnes, speaking to the Press and Journal, said: “He’s got lovely dancing feet – a bit Christie-like – and has that lovely left foot. I think if he gets it right he could do something similar to Christie for us.
“I think he enjoyed the role that we gave him towards the end of last season.
“I think sometimes the robustness of our league – James with his back to goal facing two big centre-halves – is not perfect for him. But James playing off the right-hand side can make him more influential for us.
“He got a couple of assists against Hearts and he could have scored a hat-trick against Celtic.
“Some of his performances were excellent and then he scored the winning goal at Easter Road on the last day of the season. So, I think that he enjoyed the role.”