CRAIG Beattie reckons his former Swansea City pal Scott Sinclair is a stick-on to be Scotland's player of the year.
The 31-year-old former Celtic striker, currently helping Edinburgh City fight against the drop back into the Lowland League, dovetailed with Sinclair in South Wales as Brendan Rodgers guided the Swans to the the Premiership via a playoff final win against Reading, and is delighted to see his old pal back playing with a smile on his face again.
With just seven games to negotiate as they close in on the first unbeaten domestic Scottish season since 1899 and the fourth treble in the club's history, Celtic have been dominant this season and Beattie reckons Sinclair, the league top scorer, also deserves the accolade of the league's top player.
"I know Scott really well and how well he is doing doesn't surprise me," said Beattie. "I played with him at Swansea and then he moved on to Manchester City, which was a move he just couldn't knock back. Everybody knows that if you go there you could become a superstar, but unfortunately that didn't quite materialise and he has had a few moves since then which probably didn't work out the way he wanted them to. But now he is in Glasgow and he is happy. The way he is playing tells you everything you need to know.
"It is easy to discredit the boy because he didn't play X amount of games at Man City but you were talking world superstars like Robinho when he was there," he added. "What he is doing right now is playing the games, scoring the goals, playing with a smile on his face. It is an absolute pleasure to watch him. He is top, top professional and a really good lad.
"[Stuart] Armstrong has had a good season, Broony [Scott Brown] has had another good season and [Moussa] Dembele is scoring all the goals but the impact Sinclair has had and what he is bringing to the team just makes him a little bit different. He pins defenders and makes back lines drop into their own box, which gets Dembele and other boys closer to the box. When you sit down and analyse it, there is only one player of the year and for me it is has to be Scott."
Neither is Beattie surprised by how well Rodgers has adjusted to the Scottish game. The 31-year-old, who fully expects his former club to complete their place in history in the next seven matches, predicted his former mentor would be hugely successful north of the border and so it has proved. With a new four-year deal in place, Celtic's dominance seems set fair to continue.
"Don't say I didn't warn you because this is exactly how I envisaged it going," Beattie said. "And I am sure as far as Brendan's expectations are going, he is probably just meeting the ones he has set himself, and not over-achieving either. The guy just wants to break every record possible.
"You have got to back them to go on and complete both the treble and the unbeaten season, because they do look unstoppable at the minute," he added. "Obviously in one-off games anything can happen, we know that, form and stuff goes out the window to a degree, but they have been so dominant that is hard to sit here and predict that anything else will happen other than Celtic wins.
"The most one-sided of the games [this season's Old Firm matches] might actually have been the second match, the 1-0, and there is a gap there, there's no doubt about that," said Beattie. "It will be interesting how Pedro Caixinha does, because this is his first big test. But I am sure Brendan will be relaying that to the Celtic players. Making sure they know Rangers will have a new energy about them, now they are playing for a new manager and one who will be there for the foreseeable future."