Eleven months after he was labelled the "Great Wall" by Spanish media, a recurring joke in Scotland surrounds whether Fraser Forster may be properly recognised from the moon before the England manager Roy Hodgson does likewise.

Celtic's 1-0 defeat to Barcelona in their Champions League group game was understandably overshadowed by the key refereeing decision of the match; the red card issued to Scott Brown. The Celtic captain was guilty of stupidity rather than the footballing crime of the century but, thereafter, discussion surrounded that incident rather than Forster's brilliance in keeping the score at a level which properly represented the game.

Forster produced a wonderful double save from Neymar and Alexis Sánchez with Barça already a goal in front. Later, the goalkeeper was to deny Neymar again as the Brazilian was sent clean through on the Celtic goal.

These were hardly isolated incidents. Forster's contribution was widely highlighted as pivotal to Celtic progression to the last 16 of last season's Champions League. As famously noted in Spain, his heroics against Barcelona were especially worthy.

This time round, the Celtic manager Neil Lennon has confidently labelled Forster as one of the best goalkeepers in the Champions League. It would be quite a claim, if not placed against Forster's routine brilliance when facing top-level opposition. "Some of the saves he makes, other goalkeepers can't," Lennon adds. "For a guy of his physique he is very, very agile. When he really puts his mind to it, he is brilliant at keeping that ball out of the net. Some of the saves he makes, you are like, how does he do that?"

It was Forster's sprawling frame, all 6ft 7in of it, which initially caught Lennon's eye. As the manager acknowledges, Forster retains physical qualities that are not common even in the best goalkeepers. Time and again, including this week, Lennon has pushed Forster's international case while perhaps wondering if he is fighting a losing battle.

European football has been highly influential in Forster's development. He looked a nervous player on arrival at Celtic – an understandable trait given his lack of earlier exposure to the first team at Newcastle United – with the Europa League campaign of 2011-12 offering the first strong evidence that Forster retained more than only height and potential.

There have been dips, including in the latter part of last season, but Forster is far from alone in that regard. His emergence as one of Britain's outstanding goalkeepers can be linked both to the playing of regular first-team football and smart coaching. The Celtic goalkeeping coach, Stevie Woods, is worthy of acknowledgement in the latter regard.

Hodgson's refusal to at least offer Forster a chance is intriguing. The 25-year-old is expected to be named in the England squad on Thursday for the upcoming fixtures against Montenegro and Poland but, barring something extraordinary, Hodgson will retain faith with Joe Hart as his first-choice keeper. Whether Forster would be among Hodgson's party at all if Ben Foster was fit is also unclear.

Forster has been in four previous England squads but is yet to sample any action, even, strangely, in a friendly. Against that backdrop, it is easy to infer that Hodgson is unconvinced.

If Hodgson's private assertion is that Hart is untouchable, that much is undermined by high-profile blunders; including at international level. If the England manager believes Forster is not afforded a strong enough workload in Scottish football then that, too, is contradicted by the Celtic man's displays in the Champions League. Playing in the SPL apparently did little harm to John Ruddy, who spent the 2009-10 season at Motherwell and is now respected south of the border.

The whisper in goalkeeping circles over the summer was that Norwich City would look towards Forster if Ruddy was coaxed to Chelsea. Benfica, whom Forster faced in the Champions League last season, tried to prise him from Glasgow but were rapidly rebuffed by Celtic.

The smart money may well be on this being Forster's last season with the Scottish champions. He has made no secret of his ambitions. Yet it would be a shame if it took such a transfer for Forster's aptitude to be properly understood. Barcelona's forwards would attest to that much.