James Forrest Celtic return finally gives manager selection headache

By David Walton

September 6, 2021

After a stop-start beginning to the season, James Forrest finally looks set to get going again after the international break.

The Scotland international had looked in fine form during the early stages of the Ange Postecoglou era. Two goals and three assists in his first six games under the new boss was a fine way to kickstart the season.

However, unsurprisingly, an injury knock held the player back last month. He’s missed Celtic’s last three matches in all competitions, and it’s shown as the Hoops have lacked a like-for-like sub for Liel Abada.

Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Fortunately, however, the player should be back in time for Saturday’s game against Ross County. Before the international break, Postecoglou stated that the winger was close to facing Rangers in our last game before the break-up. He stated that Forrest was still in the squad as soon as the morning of the Glasgow Derby [The Scotsman].

In Forrest’s absence, Celtic have lost genuine depth on the wide areas. Liel Abada has had to play 266 minutes across the three games. You could also say his absence led to Kyogo Furuhashi starting on the left at Ibrox too.

It’s certainly had a domino effect with regards to certain tactical decisions.

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James Forrest Celtic return coincides nicely with Jota signing

Forrest’s return will finally provide Celtic with two threatening options on the right flank. It will allow Postecoglou to replace Abada with a proven talent when he starts drifting out of matches. And vice-versa of course.

But his return also coincides beautifully with the signing of Portuguese talent Jota on loan from Benfica.

Jota plays on the left flank, another area Celtic have no options in given the recent departure of Ryan Christie. Bagging the Benfica man means that the Hoops won’t have to throw Forrest or Abada into an unnatural left-sided position.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Given the new man has already undergone a pre-season in Portugal, there’s no reason to hold back. He should be in the side against the Staggies this weekend, no question.

Brilliantly, however, all three of our current wide options can play on either flank if necessary. It gives Postecoglou a positive selection headache – something he’s barely had since arriving in Glasgow.

Fingers crossed there are no setbacks in Forrest’s programme between now and the end of the week. Considering how close he was to making Ibrox, he should be ready to go when County come to town.

In other news, Why Celtic could be about to visit the Director of Football question again

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