Stuart Armstrong is tipping his two Southampton team-mates on loan at Celtic to make a big impact in his old club’s Europa League campaign.
The English Premier League outfit shelled out a combined total of £26-million to sign Fraser Forster and Mohammed Elyounoussi in 2014 and 2018 respectively.
Yet such is the depth of squad available to manager Ralph Hasenhuttl, the Austrian was happy to let the pair head north in search of regular first-team starts.
For Armstrong, who himself joined Saints from Celtic for £7m last summer, that is good news for the Scottish champions as they ready themselves to begin their Europa League group away to Rennes on Thursday night.
“I hope both guys have a really good time in Scotland. I am sure they can both make a real contribution in Europe and the domestic games,” he said.
“Everyone knows that big Fraser is a very good goalkeeper because there was a time when he was England’s No. 1.
“Since then, he has been unfortunate with injuries, and has lost his place at Southampton. But you could still see in training the quality he has.
“When you are taking the ball at the edge of the box, he is someone you don’t want to see in the goal in front of you.
“Games can change everything. If he gets his confidence going again, then I don’t see why he can’t regain his very best form.”
Armstrong has a similar view of Elyounoussi, who Hoops supporters will remember scoring against them, both home and away, in the Europa League in 2015-16 while playing for Molde in his native Norway.
“Again, Mo is a very talented guy, who I am expecting good things of at Celtic,” the midfielder continued.
“He is quite an attacking player, someone who is definitely not afraid to take the ball. He is very skilful with the ball and his turns, and is someone who likes to drift into spaces.
“I think probably his best asset is his ability to get out of tricky situations in midfield, and then focus on getting his team up the park.
“We didn’t see so much of him at Southampton but sometimes that is just the way things pan out.
“Football changes fast, it always has done. You see boys come in and stay for five years, and boys who come in and leave in six months.
“But I saw some footage of Mo playing for Basle in the Champions League a couple of years ago, and there were some great performances from him.
“Now he is with Celtic and heading into the Europa League, and I don’t see why he wouldn’t have a very good campaign.”
At the other end of the scale, Armstrong has no doubt the red-hot form of his fellow Scotland midfielder, Ryan Christie, can be a big asset to the Hoops in a group that, in addition to Rennes, also includes Lazio and Cluj, who they have already played, and lost to, in the Champions League qualifiers.
“I have always been a big fan of Ryan’s ability,” said Armstrong.
“He came to Celtic from Inverness, and I was already there. He was very good in training.
“He went out on loan, which was great for his development. But I personally thought he was good enough to be at Celtic at that time.
“Since then, he has come back and shown everyone what a good player he is.
“He is dynamic, has good energy and can score goals.”
European goals at that, with Christie’s startling run of eight in eight games at the start of the season, having included scores against Cluj, Nomme Kalju and Sarajevo.
“Ryan has shown when he has played what an impact he can have, in both European and domestic games,” said Armstrong.
“He brings a great energy to the game and, as such, is a valuable player to have in the team.”
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