Euro exit has made Celtic Fraser sharp

FRASER FORSTER reckons the rest of the SPFL Premiership is suffering for Celtic's painful early exit from the Champions League … and the evidence backs him up.

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Fraser Forster is within sight of Celtic's all-time shut-out record of 10 games
Fraser Forster is within sight of Celtic's all-time shut-out record of 10 games

Since they crashed 6-1 to Barcelona in the Nou Camp in their final Group H game on December 11, the Hoops have won every match.

They have not so much as lost a goal, let alone dropped a point in the six games since that horror night. That has propelled them 13 points clear in a title race in which they have now beaten all 11 other teams and have to yet to taste defeat.

Forster's frugal form has played a huge part in pushing Celtic well on their way to clinching their third title in a row, and booking the single place up for grabs to Scottish clubs in next season's Champions League qualifiers.

The giant goalie has set his sights on extending their winning streak as far into the remaining 18 league games and the maximum four Scottish Cup ties which lie between them and the end of the campaign.

As he settled into their training camp in Turkey ahead of tonight's opening Antalya Cup match against Trabzonspor, Forster said of their victory surge since their Euro exit: "We are high in confidence. We've picked up a lot more results following Champions League games than we did last year, so we have better experience there.

"Although we were disappointed by the Champions League, there was less of a hangover after it.

"We're a year older and a bit more experienced off the back of last season when we played Champions League games and then went into domestic games. Everyone has done well and contributed."

Forster does not want the winning run to end any time soon and told Celtic TV: "It's been brilliant and something we have wanted to keep going. We've not been at our best over the last few weeks, but we have ground out wins, which is the most important thing. If you can perform well, it's an added bonus.

"There is still a lot of time left this season, so it's important to keep the run going and keep putting in performances."

Having equalled Rab Douglas's modern-day record for consecutive league shut-outs, his next target is the all-time record of 10 matches, held by Charlie Shaw for the past 100 years.

Forster is the first to admit the players in front of him must take much of the credit for making the Hoops impenetrable for the past four weeks.

And, as ever, the man who has his sights set on this summer's World Cup finals with England, is quick to remember the role played by Celtic's goalie coach, Stevie Woods.

Manager Neil Lennon is on record as saying that watching Forster progress into Roy Hodgson's squad and then winning his first cap is one of his proudest achievements as a manager.

The keeper said of his boss: "He's done a lot for me and I will always be very grateful for that. He brought me to the club and has shown a lot of faith in me, and it's very nice for him to say that."

Meanwhile, Celtic have today been linked with a move for Sporting Lisbon wonderkid Carlos Mane.

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