James Forrest and his Scotland snub is probably the best thing for Celtic

By Euan Davidson

November 2, 2021

While there was plenty of righteous anger that Celtic defender Anthony Ralston didn’t make the latest Scotland squad, spare a thought for James Forrest.

Now, logic dictates that James Forrest is just back from injury, and not picking him for Scotland duty makes total sense. He only came back to the Celtic team on Saturday, making a cameo appearance late on against Livingston.

Ah, but; were that a trend. Callum McGregor was brought into the Scotland squad for the last international break, despite being injured at the time. Ditto Kyogo and Japan, with the Celtic star featuring against Australia. Even in this current Scotland squad, former Bhoys favourite Kieran Tierney is nursing an injury [Sun].

Photo by UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images

So, why no James Forrest, despite regularly getting picked for Scotland anyway?

On the surface, it’d be easy to be annoyed. To say that Celtic players are being overlooked, apart from old faithfuls like Callum McGregor and David Turnbull, who by the way, rarely actually sees game-time for Steve Clarke.

On this occasion, though? It just doesn’t feel worth getting worked up about. That’s for two quite important reasons: firstly, it benefits Celtic, in truth. Secondly, Clarke’s system means Forrest was unlikely to play anyway.

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James Forrest can feel slighted by Scotland snub, but it’s probably good news for Celtic

Before we get into this, why wouldn’t it be good news for Celtic that Ralston wasn’t picked? It’d be opportunity for him to rest rather than playing for Scotland.

Right, yes; but the thing is, Ralston has never been in the Scotland squad before. He’s been playing to an excellent level with Celtic, and arguably inferior, less match-ready options are being picked ahead of him. That isn’t necessarily the case with James Forrest.

The Celtic winger has been a mainstay in Scotland squads for a good while now. He has an impressive 38 caps [Transfermarkt]. But under this manager, where width is at a premium, Forrest isn’t a natural fit anyway.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

With most of Scotland’s talent diluted into certain positions, Steve Clarke has never really gone with a three up front. James Forrest could play the right wing-back role, and has for Scotland in brief spells before. But that isn’t the best way to use his talents.

Call it a snub – and you can, because it is – is it worth sending out a half-fit James Forrest to sit on the bench? Probably not.

When the international break is done, who knows what the squad will look like? If we’re lucky, we’ll have a full compliment of players to enjoy.

But at the very least, we’ll have James Forrest, presumably ready to start matches. That’s a boost.

Read more: Exclusive: Scott McDonald on “ridiculous” Scotland omission for Celtic star Anthony Ralston