BARRY FERGUSON has backed his friend and former team-mate, James McFadden, to rediscover his best form if he completes a surprise move to Celtic.

Representatives of the 28-year-old former Motherwell, Everton and Birmingham City forward, who is a free agent, were last night in negotiations with the Parkhead club over a contract.

“He has plenty left in the tank; there is no question of that at all,” said Ferguson. “He may have been out for a year with an injury, but you never lose the ability to entertain and create. It would be a big opportunity for James, and he would bring something different to the Celtic squad.”

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Ferguson added that he felt it was “inevitable” that McFadden would become a Celtic player some day. “James knows about the demands at Celtic; he’s a supporter of the club and it was always [likely to be] a move that would happen some time for him.”

The Scotland man had looked as if he would remain in the Barclays Premier League with Wolverhampton Wanderers. He had spent the last two weeks training with Mick McCarthy’s squad after completing rehabilitation from a cruciate knee injury, suffered 13 months ago during training at Birmingham.

City had decided against taking up an option to extend his contract because of the size of his salary, and the 48-time capped Scot has been on the look-out for a club ever since.

The Celtic manager, Neil Lennon, who has always been an admirer of the player and had previously made tentative enquiries about his availability prior to the shattering training-ground knee injury he sustained, has stepped in.

Ferguson, who played numerous games alongside McFadden for the national team and spent two years with him at Birmingham, believes his signing would prove a major boost to a Celtic side that has fallen 10 points behind Rangers in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.

“James is a very good player; we’ve all seen that over the years,” said Ferguson. “They call him a maverick but he takes the game seriously. He has that ability to create something from nothing in games, to change things in an instant and make goals for other players as well. That could be handy in tight SPL games.

“The last time we spoke a few weeks ago he was telling me he feels great, very strong, and that he wanted to get going again at a new club. It would allow him the chance to get back up to Scotland also. He has a family, and that side of his life is very important to him. I think he’s been in England for eight years, so maybe the timing is right now.”

McFadden left Motherwell for Everton in 2003 for a fee of £1.25m. He spent five years there, before joining Alex McLeish at Birmingham for in excess of £5m. His last game was on September 12, 2010, but Ferguson, who had to battle back from a shattered knee-cap injury during his time at Blackburn Rovers, does not doubt that McFadden can recapture old glories.

“Knowing James, and the fact that he is very much a winner, he will want to show everyone he can get back to the way he was,” added the Blackpool captain, who left Birmingham in the summer.