Celtic need to find reliable cover for James Forrest

By David Walton

December 17, 2019

When it comes to James Forrest’s cover this season, it’s probably fair to say numbers outweigh the talent.

Celtic have a host of wingers at the club outside of those we would deem top quality. Forrest, Mikey Johnston, and Mohamed Elyounoussi all fit into that top quality bracket. Yet, strip it back and just who in reserve can consider themselves good enough to be playing every week?

Scott Sinclair, Lewis Morgan, and Marian Shved simply haven’t offered us enough this season. Each will have different reasons and certainly have had a differing quantity of chances to show what they can offer. But for one reason or another, not one of them can feel they’ve had a successful first half to the season.

Lewis Morgan hasn’t shown enough when given the chance (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

And that lack of cover isn’t anywhere more noticeable than at right-mid. The only reason it hasn’t been pulled up is because you hardly notice it with how many games Forrest plays. Indeed, Jimmy has managed to feature in 31 of our 34 games this season (Transfermarkt).

When he hasn’t played, we’ve been woefully lacking in the position. Forrest didn’t play in games against Nomme Kalju, Cluj, and Partick Thistle. Morgan has been the go-to man when that’s been the case. Yet who can honestly feel he’s performed well enough?

The quality isn’t there to compete with Forrest

Ideally, another right-winger who has the quality to push Forrest would be targeted in January. Competition in every area of the squad is healthy, but Forrest doesn’t have that at all.

James Forrest doesn’t have a viable challenger for his position (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

All season, and even in Brendan Rodgers’ tenure, Forrest made the right-mid spot his own due to a lack of opposition to him. Patrick Roberts briefly seemed to displace him, but Forrest stepped up and won his spot in the team back again.

Now, however, we certainly don’t have a Roberts to be pushing him. The difference in quality between Forrest and Morgan is stark. Ideally, the gap between first and second choice shouldn’t be as big as that.

It’s an area of the squad we’ve been lacking in for a while outside of Forrest. Yet, it never seems to be one that Celtic are bothered about investing in. Shved may have been brought in, but he’s been given next to no opportunities this season.

Will Forrest ever be seriously challenged again? (Alex Nicodim/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

A nasty injury to Forrest, and let’s not pretend that’s impossible, and we’re in trouble in that area. Granted, Mohamed Elyounoussi has experience of it, but he’s more suited down the left. Pulling players out of their natural position wouldn’t be the best way to go about things.

Celtic haven’t been linked with a right-winger for the January transfer window. But if we’re getting serious, it’s probably an area we should be looking at for some cover.