IF ONE chapter is about to close on the colourful career of Craig Gordon, former Celtic and Republic of Ireland internationalist Pat Bonner expects that another may be about to begin.

Gordon is out of contract with Celtic at the end of May and given the current question-marks over the campaign, it could mean that he has effectively played his last game for the Parkhead side.

While Bonner fully anticipates that dipping his toe into coaching work will appeal to the 37-year-old, he has also questioned whether the keeper will wish to call time on his playing days just yet.

Gordon lost two years of his career to debilitating arm and knee injuries and was on the cusp of going into coaching after being released by Sunderland in 2012. The missing years may mean that the Scotland internationalist opts to prolong his career now for as long as possible but there is an inevitability about him sharing his vast experience on a coaching field, according to Bonner.

“I would be amazed if he didn’t go into coaching because I think he has a natural aptitude for it and he also has so much to offer,” reflected Bonner. “I would certainly think that he will definitely be thinking about what his next step is. You do have a point where you think to yourself, ‘Right, what comes next?’

“I met Craig before he had gone to Celtic at a coaching event when he was coming back from injury and had been out of the game. I was really impressed with him; his manners, his knowledge, the way he conducted himself generally. I was shocked myself that he got himself back to the level he did with Celtic.

“He was out for such a long time. It is not that you would ever doubt his credentials but when you have been out for such a long time it is exceptionally difficult to get back to playing at the highest level.

"I know myself because I was out for three months at one stage with a disc problem in my back and you do doubt yourself. The longer it goes on, you do wonder about whether you will get over it. He must have had those concerns numerous times so he is clearly a resilient character.”

Had things gone differently, Gordon could have been making his next move from a London base. Former Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers blocked a move to Chelsea in January 2017 when the Premier League club wanted Gordon as back-up to their then regular first choice goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, now at Real Madrid. Gordon went on to play 55 out of Celtic’s 69 games in that historic Invincible season. However, he has made just six appearances for Celtic this term, with his last start coming in a 2-0 Europa League defeat to Cluj in December when Neil Lennon’s side were already assured of progression. With his contract due to expire at the end of May, that game could well have been his last for the Parkhead club.

Hearts were keen on his services in January although current circumstances may prohibit a renewal of interest. In any case, Bonner expects that, while there may be some football left in Gordon, his long-term future will lie in coaching. There will be clear frustration, too, at the lack of playing time over the last two seasons.

“I think he might have been a bit disappointed in January not to have moved on,” said Bonner. “At that stage Scotland were still thinking that they had a chance of making it to the European Championships, which obviously are a casualty now to the coronavirus, but I am sure he would have wanted to get the opportunity to play and just give people a few decisions to make. He could still to a job for someone.”

Fraser Forster has been Celtic’s first-choice goalkeeper this term with Scott Bain and Gordon the back-ups to the England internationalist. But with a £90k salary at Southampton and two years still remaining on his deal with the English Premier League side, the likelihood is that finances will be prohibitive to a permanent Parkhead contract.

Although Bonner has questioned the longevity of such eye-watering salaries given the precariousness of broadcasting deals that has been exposed in recent weeks.

“Fraser is only one of at least three goalkeepers at the club who will all be earning similar amount. There is no way that can be sustainable,” he said.

“I don’t know what will happen with that in the aftermath of this crisis but you do wonder if there will be a re-evaluation of things and you’d definitely expect clubs to start factoring in some kind of risk management strategy.

“I am not sure that there will ever be a wage cap in football. I don’t know how that would work. But I am sure that a number of clubs will look at things differently on the back of what we have seen this month.”