BRENDAN Rodgers has confirmed that Celtic are keen to keep Craig Gordon at the club long-term and hinted that the goalkeeper could emulate the likes of former Netherlands and Manchester United custodian Edwin van der Saar by playing top class football into his 40s. Dumped into the reserves rather unceremoniously by the Northern Irishman early in the season at the expense of new signing Dorus de Vries, the 33-year-old has responded by putting in extra work on his distribution at Lennoxtown each day.

Not only has he nailed down the starting spot at the club, he has impressed his manager sufficiently that the club will take up their option for an extra year in his contract, with a new longer term arrangement also possible. For his part, Gordon - who will celebrate his 34th birthday at Ibrox as Celtic face Rangers on Hogmanay - is as happy with his football right now as he has been at any point in his career. The story only becomes even more remarkable when you consider that the former Hearts and Sunderland goalkeeper missed almost two years of football with a serious knee injury.

“Craig is definitely one I want to keep," said Rodgers. "You see now a different goalkeeper to when I first came in. How sure, how calm he is and there was another clean sheet on Saturday. He still has a lot of games in him. He’s 34 soon but he’s a top goalkeeper who looks after his body, lives his life the right away, and the Edwin van der Saar's go onto 40. He has a good few years left.

“I think his past injures could put years onto the end of his career," the Northern Irishman added. "There are not so many miles on the clock. He is really enjoying this way of working. He is contributing to the team and feels that, even when he doesn’t have lot to do. He can see how the top goalkeepers in the world function. The way they play football, and he’s been a real important player for us.

“Craig is a good guy as well. A really humble person. At his age he could easily have said ‘that it’ but he wanted to take his game to another level. He has done against Manchester City and away in Monchengladbach. He’s done it in big games.”

“The club has an option for a further year after the end of this season," said Gordon. “I’d like to stay. The football we’re playing and the fact it’s so enjoyable – which is something you don't always have.

“To be at a massive club is special. We’re on a great run and where else would I want to be when we are challenging for trophies? It’s everything I would want as a professional footballer. I want to play in this team for as long as I can.”

“Yes [it would be nice to get a new contract sorted] but there’s no rush and I’m happy what the situation is. I’m happy for it continue the way it is.”