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Lennon hails centre-backs as Forster closes on 43-year-old shutout record

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Fraser Forster has set a new club record with his 11th successive clean sheet for Celtic FC

Fraser Forster has set a new club record with his 11th successive clean sheet for Celtic FC

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Fraser Forster has set a new club record with his 11th successive clean sheet for Celtic FC

If he can keep his goal unbreached for 31 minutes for Celtic against Hearts at Tynecastle today, Fraser Forster will break a Scottish league record that has stood for 43 years.

For Neil Lennon, that statistic alone rebuts the argument that life is too easy for a player who hopes to be in the England World cup squad .

The long-standing shutout record was set by Bobby Clark of Aberdeen in 1970-71, when the Dons went 15 games unbeaten in the old Scottish First Division and he did not have to retrieve the ball from his goal for 1155 minutes.

"It'd be a great landmark. Clean sheets are very difficult things to do. When you break a record you look back over moments and I think of some of the saves that Fraser made, particularly at Hibs," said Lennon.

"You need a little bit of luck. Keepers and back fours pride themselves on it but to be as consistent as that for such a concerted period of time takes some doing."

Forster has, of course, been the centre of attraction as he has amassed his heap of scoreless minutes, but Lennon also drew attention to the labours of the men in front of him, especially Efe Ambrose and Virgil van Dijk.

"The two centre-halves have been very consistent in that period as well – and we're blessed in that we've got four very talented full-backs," said the Hoops manager.

"But the two centre-halves have been brilliant, I have to say."

There was, though, no place for Van Dijk in the large Dutch squad named by Louis van Gaal for their friendly with France in Paris on March 5.

"I'm very surprised at that because he's a quality player," said Lennon. "I think we all agree he's a quality player there's so much scope for him to get better. Is there a guarantee that if he was playing somewhere else he might be in the squad? It might be a personal thing, the coach's choice.

"Do I think Virgil's good enough to make a 33-man squad? I certainly do. He has really adapted to life here and he's very good in the dressing-room. His attitude is fantastic. "

His performances haven't gone unnoticed, with Van Dijk now of interest for both Manchester clubs.

"It wouldn't surprise me," said Lennon. "I think he's one of the best centre-halves we've seen up here. He's technically gifted and very good in the air. At times he makes it look easy. People say he's got another gear.

"He does work hard in the games but I think in the Champions League he showed his qualities." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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