Daily Record recently disseminated reports that Celtic officials are in touch with the former England international Joe hart if their attempt to get Fraser Forster back on loan from Southampton fails.
Both the Celtic shot stoppers Craig Gordon and Fraser Foster are possibly on the out this season which is why securing a replacement has become the highest priority for Neil Lennon, unless another loan for Forster can be agreed upon.
Craig Gordon was offered a new deal at Parkhead but had refused it due to a diminished role and limited game time this season. He has since been approached by Tynecastle where his former teammate Robbie Nelson has taken over affairs at the club and has signed over the dotted lines for the Jambos.
On the other hand Fraser Foster has so far seemed certain to be returning back to the Saints with reports coming out of St Mary’s indicating that they want Forster in the squad for the next season.
Fraser has had a stunning season with the hoops taking them to the title with his noteworthy heroics between posts, subsequently Southampton are keenly interested to position Fraser as their no.1 despite of having plethora of talented keepers such as Alex McCarthy, Angus Gunn and the young Henry Lewis.
With new signings and possible contract extension talks underway Neil Lennon has so far been able to keep Mohamed Elyounoussi in the squad for a second consecutive season on loan but the same hasn’t yet happened with Forster, which is what has brought Celtic ‘s attention to free agent Joe Hart.
Joe Hart the former England national has more than 70 caps and played an instrumental part for Manchester city as part of their title winning squad of 2014 and 2016. However with the subsequent arrival of the new manager Pep Guardiola, Joe Hart had been seamlessly dumped out of the club in his very second season, with Pep fantasising about the former Barcelona keeper Claudio Bravo. Since then he has had loan spells for Torino and West Ham and now Burnley.
At Burnley this season he played as a second goalkeeper representing them only three times and with the club being unwilling to extend his contract, Celtic have a propitious opportunity on their hands.
Despite all his upheavals, veteran goalkeeper Joe Hart is very much optimistic and is still hoping to make a comeback for the national team and has recently launched an impassioned defence of his abilities to potential suitors like Celtic.
Speaking to BBC Sport, in aid of mental health awareness, he said:
“The fact I have had to sit on the bench for 18 months in the Premier League is not going to define or crush me.
“I remember who I am. I remember playing for my local Sunday league team and trying to get into the Shrewsbury Town first team. I learned early – you need to keep things in perspective.
You can have great things said about you in football, but you have to be strong on self-criticism, analyse what you are doing and be comfortable with it.
“Maybe from the outside, people are thinking it is a time for panic, but from the inside it is a time to look forward and see all the opportunities.
“I am young when it comes to goalkeeping. I am even younger when it comes to the mental age of a guy who just wants to go in goal and have people whack balls at him.
“I am under no illusions that Real Madrid are going to knock my door down, get (Thibaut) Courtois out and bring me in. But there is plenty more to come from me.
“I just need someone to believe in me and I will repay that faith.”
Hart has long been a mental health advocate and and worked alongside revered coach Jamie Edwards after being temporarily ditched by Manchester City in 2013.
With his experience he believes he can help the next generation with words of wisdom that will steer them right during their own careers. He added:
“You can look at me from the outside, look at the position I am in and the heights I have been at and think things are not going great but that is not the case.
“I feel good. I turn up for the games expecting to play, even when I am not on the sheet, because it is a positive mental attitude. It is something I have worked on for years.
“I want to pass it on. If I meet a bunch of under-12s, I would be asking me about when I saved a Messi penalty or what it’s like playing for England. All they care about now is how do you deal with a mistake? How do deal with someone taunting you from behind the goal?
While Fraser has undoubtedly been a proven commodity for Celtic, the present situation at St Mary’s indicates that Southampton will be unwilling to ship him off north of the border once again. Instead they prefer sending Angus Gunn to go out on loan instead after his disastrous start to the season and as a result Forster will mostly like stay back at the club to tussle it out with Alex McCarthy for a starting position next season.
With that out of the way, its essential for Celtic to be looking at alternate options and this is the best there is at the moment. Having played at the highest standards of this game, Joe Hart is a man with a proven pedigree, a winning spirit and all the qualities of a natural leader that the team needs for next season.
His mental health comments fit in perfectly with the narrative here, having come out of his own ups and downs in life, moreover both the young Celtic keepers, Scott Bain and Conor Hazard could do much worse than learning and training with a stalwart like Joe Hart in the team.
Because of Celtic’s massive expectations in the Premiership they need a seasoned and dependable player who has ample experience on his side and will have the ability to lead the team from the back. Nobody fits the bill better at the moment than a two time premier league winning goalkeeper who is still only 33 years of age.