Barry Robson urges James Forrest to stay at Celtic

James Forrest (left) celebrates
Forrest (left) scored his eighth goal of the season on Saturday

James Forrest should ignore interest from English clubs and continue to develop his game at Celtic, says Middlesbrough midfielder Barry Robson.

Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp has again expressed his admiration for the 20-year-old Scotland winger.

"I would like him to stay at Celtic a wee bit longer and ply his trade, maybe get Celtic back in Europe and get some big-game experience," said Robson.

"He's got plenty of time to go down and show his talents down south."

Robson was speaking during a January transfer window in which Scott Allan has moved to West Brom from Dundee United and fellow midfield prospect Jack Grimmer has joined Fulham from Aberdeen.

Both of those teenagers have made the switch before even establishing themselves in the first teams at their Scottish Premier League clubs.

But Forrest has now made more than 50 appearances and scored the opening goal in his latest, a 2-0 win over St Mirren on Saturday that stretched Celtic's lead over reigning champions Rangers to four points.

And, although Robson thinks Forrest should resist the temptation to follow those other young Scots south at this stage, he has no doubts that he will one day be playing in England's top flight.

"I remember when I was at Celtic and he was a young kid just coming in and I was impressed with him right away," said the 33-year-old who was on the youth books at Rangers then had spells with Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Dundee United and Celtic before joining Middlesbrough in 2008.

"I looked at him and thought 'he's got a real chance, this kid'. He's just progressing more and more.

"When he's been with Scotland squads, he seems very grounded, very down-to-earth and he's got a big, big future ahead of him."

Scott Brown set up Forrest for Celtic's opening goal at St Mirren Park before adding the second with a fine curling drive and Robson was pleased to see his fellow Scotland midfielder return to form.

"He has stayed injury free," Robson told BBC Scotland's Sportscene. "The biggest thing for Scott is that he's been having problems with his ankles.

"People don't give him credit, he is a good footballer is Scott, he's good on the ball, he's dynamic.

"And he can add more goals to his game if he gets into that box a bit more, because he's got the legs, he's got the energy and he's showed he's got the technique as well."

Fraser Forster helped Celtic to victory with some fines saves at crucial times in Paisley and Robson recalled how having a top goalkeeper like Artur Boruc had helped the Parkhead side win the title during his own time there.

"It is a specialised position and, if you want to achieve anything, you need to have a top-class goalkeeper," he added.

"You can see he is getting stronger and stronger. He's done terrifically well recently."