CELTIC manager Neil Lennon has criticised Peter Shilton for saying Fraser Forster should leave Scottish football for the sake of his long-term England prospects.
Forster is unsure whether he will be one of the three goalkeepers in Roy Hodgson's squad for the World Cup finals in Brazil this summer. Joe Hart appears a certain pick and Forster, Ben Foster and John Ruddy should contest the other two places. Forster has been in the England squad 11 times and was capped once, against Chile at Wembley in November.
Shilton, who was capped 125 times by England, voiced a widely held perception south of the border when he said that Forster is not properly tested in Scottish football and is "just standing between the sticks for Celtic and having very little to do".
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But Lennon, who was yesterday named SPFL Premiership manager of the month for January, thought that a lazy assessment by the retired 64-year-old. "How does Peter Shilton know? How often has Peter watched Celtic play? These comments do the player an injustice and are really unfair on Fraser. We know what a good goalkeeper he is and I think he has done enough to warrant a place on the 'plane to Brazil.
"I don't know if he's seen Fraser play live or if he's been to any games here. If he had been here over the past two or three months then he might change his mind. It sounds like a throwaway remark but sometimes those are the ones that can do the most damage. Peter was one of the world's best and had such a prolonged career with England but remarks like that are certainly not encouraging for Fraser. I don't think people should take much notice."
Lennon, however, has previously conceded that Forster is likely to leave Celtic in the summer, when he is all but certain to be a target for clubs in the Barclays Premier League.
Hodgson will list a provisional, 30-man squad for Brazil on May 13. Lennon's hunch is that the 25-year-old will be one of Hodgson's picks. "I think Fraser will go to Brazil. I haven't been given a heads-up on it but he's certainly within the top three English goalkeepers," Lennon said.