James Forrest talks up the advantages of unique Celtic pre-season experience
Celtic winger James Forrest has talked up the advantages of a longer pre-season without the interruption of Champions League qualifiers.
The 31-year-old is going into his 13th pre-season as a Celtic player, having come through the ranks at Lennoxtown and become a key contributor under several managers over the years.
Having suffered a frustrating few years due to injury, the veteran winger will be looking to show his worth to Ange Postecoglou in the hope of earning a place within his side.
In previous pre-season campaigns, as the Scotland internationalist will be well aware, he may not have been handed such a long opportunity to break into the manager’s plans.
This is due to the Hoops regular involvement in the early rounds of Champions League qualifying, meaning that the competitive season would kick-start early.
However, after lifting the Scottish Premiership title last campaign, Ange Postecoglou and his players were awarded direct entry into the group stages of next season’s competition.
Forrest has recently opened up on the sort of impact that can have on the squad and is looking forward to making his UCL return for the first time since 2017.
He said [Daily Record]: “It’s class. Those four qualifiers as well and going to different place.
“I think it’s good for the club and for Scottish football as well that everybody can look forward to the draw and going straight into the groups. We’ve been everywhere, and the game on Wednesday (against Wiener Viktoria) would probably have been a qualifier.
“So, it’s good for everyone that we get together over pre-season, and the first game will be the first league game. We’ve not had that in a while. We’ll look forward to the draw when it comes.
“The Champions League nights are class, and it’s amazing even when we go away from home as well. We’re all looking forward to it when it comes along.”
Pre-season advantage for Forrest and the Celtic squad.
The Bhoys are set to take part in just their third pre-season game later this week, which will be a strange feeling for some members of this Celtic squad.
As Forrest mentions, typically at this point in the season is when qualifiers for the UEFA competitions would get underway. However, that isn’t a concern Postecoglou and his players need to worry about this season.
Instead, they have been given the boost of just being able to focus on building upon the success of last campaign and improving on their game as a whole.
Hopefully, the squad are able to use this time on the training pitch in the most effective way possible and come back even stronger for the season ahead.