Lennon believes Forrest will return from injury for Celtic next month
It’s looking likely that James Forrest will be back in action for Celtic next month after Neil Lennon’s comments today.
The reliable Parkhead winger has been out since September after coming off in a 3-2 win against Livingston. This was due to an ankle knock picked up during the contest, and the injury has caused complications ever since.
Since then, Celtic’s season has gone into a tailspin. When Forrest came off against Livi, Celtic had the title advantage, were still in the Betfred Cup, and had yet to kickoff their exciting-looking Europa League campaign. Now, we’re out of the latter two competitions and a massive 16 points behind in the league (albeit with three games in hand).
It’s fair to say Celtic have missed Forrest’s influence on the club. But speaking today, Lennon has confirmed that he’s now only a couple of weeks from a return.
As quoted by the Scottish Sun, Lennon said: “Jamesy will hopefully be back in training in a couple of weeks.
“He’s been hugely missed. Not only his goals, but assists as well.
“He was coming into really good form. It’s been a very frustrating period for him but having him back will be like a new signing.”
Forrest adds so much to Celtic
He’s one of those who’s influence on Celtic isn’t acknowledged enough until he’s out of the team. For many, Forrest can be a frustrating figure when he’s actually playing.
So many times he’ll pick up the ball and make a mess of his final ball. However, he does so much than just take his man on. He’s a superb finisher, and his ability to hold onto the ball helps create room for others. The opposition knows the threat he carries if he gets in on goal, and they’re always so wary of that when he picks it up.
The winger’s numbers maybe don’t back up how crucial he is to us this season. At the time of his injury, Forrest came off against Livi with 10 appearances and three direct goal contributions to his name (Transfermarkt). But that was at a period when Celtic were struggling for form all-round.
In recent weeks, there’s a new vibrancy to the Hoops that’s been great to see. It would be superb to see him play in this David Turnbull-inspired side. He will likely return to his peak form when he does.
Of course, his return next month will likely be followed by a couple of weeks of fitness training. Given he hasn’t been able to do a lot of running with his ankle in bad shape, he’ll need some time. But it shouldn’t be excessive, and you would hope he’ll be back firing again from February.
At a time when we’ll have hoped to have reeled Rangers in to a considerable degree, that’s massive for us. Having Forrest back for such a prolonged part of the run-in will prove the perfect late Christmas present for Lennon.