As if by magic, Celtic have looked like a completely different animal since the return of James Forrest.
Scoring in his last two games against Falkirk and Livingston [Transfermarkt], the 29-year-old has brought some much-needed exuberance to the Hoops play. Despite the positive nature of his comeback, his early withdrawal on Saturday [Glasgow Times] provides a reminder of the absence of depth Celtic have on the right-wing.
Nobody is suggesting Celtic would have won the Scottish Premiership if Forrest were available. However, without him the Celts have shoehorned in Ryan Christie as well as switching formation to the 4-4-2 diamond.
In hindsight, Celtic really should have made advances to acquire a right-sided wide man in January to streamline the squad. Moving ahead, the Hoops cannot afford to be complacent with necessary positional acquisitions.
Forrest has arguably been the most influential player throughout the 9 in a row run. Despite this, he is turning 30-years-old in July and needs to be rested occasionally to maximise his full capacity.
Many players are available who could provide competition for James Forrest
Given the lack of competition Forrest has on the wing, it comes a surprise that Maryan Shved ended up moving to KV Mechelen on loan [Transfermarkt]. In the last few months, the Celts have been linked with the likes of Gyrano Kerk, Joe Randall and even Martin Boyle [The Scottish Sun].
Whether any of these players are to come to Parkhead or not, the right-wing berth needs to be addressed. Potentially, there is a case that the Hoops have over-relied on Forrest in past years. Since 2017/18, the Scotland international has registered 54 goals and 53 assists [Transfermarkt].
These statistics are an accurate illustration of Forrest’s contribution to Celtic. Nevertheless, the Hoops should act sooner rather than later to safeguard his impact moving ahead.
We’ve seen this season just how costly it’s been not having a natural replacement available at right-wing. It’s a position that Celtic have failed to strengthen since Patryk Roberts’ departure.
We need to be ready for when James cannot feature. And, as we’ve seen over the years, that’s something that happens more than we would like.