WHEN James Forrest describes his admiration for teammate Kieran Tierney, he expertly navigates a tricky line as well as any that he has danced down in his decade in the green and white hoops.

The admiration is clear, his faith in Tierney’s qualities absolute. There is not a shred of doubt in his mind that the left-back could cut it at a top club in England. It’s just, he would rather he didn’t.

Arsenal’s keen interest in Tierney rumbles on with a second bid of around £18m due to be presented to Celtic at any moment after their initial £15m flyer was booted out, but Forrest is not alone in hoping that his club can ward off the English side’s advances. Although he is far from surprised by the interest surrounding him.

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It is quite startling to realise that Forrest is still just 27, but in his long years of service to Celtic, he has come up against the best left-backs in the European game. And there is not one he would place above his unassuming pal from Motherwell.

“I’ve faced Jordi Alba, [Jan] Vertonghen and [Aleksander] Kolarov,” Forrest said. There are a lot of top ones when you go into the Champions League or Europa League or are playing with Scotland.

“Kieran’s right up there. You can see the way he bombs up and down how fit he is and he’s good defensively as well. He’s a great athlete.”

The stratospheric success of Andy Robertson in England has no doubt done wonders for the credibility of Scottish talent down south, with English clubs seemingly no longer so quick to sneer at players from this country or deem them incapable of making the step up.

Refreshingly though, Scottish clubs seem steadfast in their refusal to be taken advantage of, with Celtic not rolling over for the first megabucks bid that landed for Tierney as they may have done in the not so distant past.

Of course, the comparisons between Tierney and Robertson are even starker given they play in the same position, and Forrest knows how tempting it must be for English sides to see if he can follow the path that his Scotland teammate has blazed.

“There’s nothing between him and Andy Robertson,” he said. “They are two great players for Scotland. “Even though they play in the same position, they are slightly different with the way they play. It’s a bonus for Scotland that we have two players like that in the squad.

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“You’d need to ask KT is he’d want to do what Andy’s done. Although he’s been linked, he’s not said too much. I’m not sure what he’s thinking about that.

“We’ve seen a lot of players who’ve gone down south and done well and a lot who have gone down and maybe not doing as well. [But] KT has got that ability. He’s shown it in the Champions League.”

Forrest was relaxing yesterday at Celtic’s Austrian pre-season base after a punishing training session in 30 degree heat, and he sees nothing to suggest that Tierney, who is also present but has yet to be similarly exerted on the field, is any less laid back even with the speculation flying around him.

“KT hasn’t been saying much,” he said. “He’s here even though he isn’t training yet.

“But he’s been linked that last couple of years and he always handles it the same. He has a really good personality and it’s a credit to him how he gets on with things.

“KT has been linked with big clubs from the first season he broke into the team. He never lets any of that bother him. You have seen that in his performances over the last couple of years. He is always up there as one of the best players.

“It’s happened to a few of the boys, getting linked to different teams. But the staff and the club always keep you grounded.

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“I couldn’t even guess [what he’ll do] but I hope that he stays. He’s such a good player and he’s been really important for us over the years.

“Its’ good for him that he’s getting linked with clubs because it shows how well he is doing.

“It’s a positive thing for him and Celtic - but the club are doing everything they can to keep him.

“Rightly so, when you look at how good he has been for us. You want to keep your top players.”

Even if Arsenal do fail to land Tierney, with Celtic’s £25m valuation still some way clear of the figure they are apparently willing to pay for his services, speculation over his future is unlikely to go away.

Everton are known to be long-time admirers of the player, while Napoli also have a genuine interest in the Scotland man.

Forrest hopes though that a clear decision over his future can be made as quickly as possible, allowing him to concentrate on getting back to what he does best – bombing down that left flank. He only hopes he will be doing it for Celtic.

“For KT, it’s good to be linked - but I’m sure he will want it sorted,” he said. “KT loves Celtic. We just need to wait and see.

“Whatever happens, he is going to give 100 per cent for the club - no matter what.”