Celtic comeback man James Forrest discusses whether he's ready to start Glasgow derby

By David Walton

March 14, 2021

Celtic star James Forrest has admitted that a starting XI spot vs Rangers is likely to be out of his reach ahead of next week.

Forrest has only just returned from a six-month injury layoff that saw him receive surgery on his ankle. Jamesy bagged 12 minutes against Dundee United last week in what was his first appearance since September 24th.

There was promising news yesterday when it was reported that he also took part in a bounce game against Kilmarnock yesterday [Scottish Sun]. That appeared to be a sign that he was ramping up his chances of a Glasgow derby start.

But whilst Forrest hasn’t ruled out some form of appearance, he stated that he’s not quite ready yet to be in John Kennedy’s starting thoughts.

As quoted by the Scotsman, Forrest said: “Another week or two training [after playing against Dundee United] is only going to benefit me. But I have only played 10-15 minutes so starting against Rangers would maybe be a tough ask. I am feeling better and better all the time though.”

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Celtic still struggling for width down the right; James Forrest could still make an impact vs Rangers

It was evident at Tannadice last week that Forrest was nowhere near up to speed. The Hoops tried to feed him the ball on several occasions only for him to lose it far too easily.

Nobody was frustrated with him of course. That’s to be expected when you factor in how long he’s been in. He was never going to come on and charge past his man consistently. He’ll need minutes between now and the end of the season to get himself up to speed for pre-season.

That’s not to say he can’t make any sort of impact next Sunday. On the contrary – Forrest could be a hugely important player for Celtic next week off the bench. It’ll be interesting to see how much of a boost the bounce game will have had on his fitness levels.

Celtic winger James Forrest / (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

If he does make an appearance, he’ll likely be up against Borna Barisic. The Rangers left-back may be a real influence going forward, but he remains suspect defensively. If Forrest is able to turn in an energetic cameo in the second half, we may yet get some joy from him.

Until then, Celtic will continue to lack real width on the right side. Ever since Jeremie Frimpong left for Bayer Leverkusen, we’ve had to rely on the likes of Ryan Christie cutting inside instead of properly stretching defences and reaching the by-line.

That’s something Forrest will undoubtedly add when he’s back to full fitness. For now, however, it looks as though starting line-ups are still some way off.

In other news, Davie Provan has correctly put down the nonsensical guard of honour chat.