James Forrest may have fight on his hands to get back into Celtic team once fit

By Euan Davidson

October 20, 2021

Celtic winger James Forrest is nearing his return to fitness, but he could have a fight to win back his place in the team.

Before the Motherwell win, Ange Postecoglou said he’s working hard, and needs a good two or three weeks to get match-ready [Daily Record]. That’s not long at all.

Given how much he was missed in 20-21, and what a difference he made to Neil Lennon and John Kennedy’s sides, it seems crazy to imagine him not slotting straight into our best XI.

But with the moves Ange has made, and the overall form of our attacking players, it’s hard to know whether he’d be primed and readied to start straight away.

Instead, Celtic have twin luxuries; the first is that currently, he doesn’t need to be rushed back. Secondly, there are several options at Postecoglou’s disposal, something that wasn’t the case mere weeks ago.

Take for example, the current front three. Abada may not have been at his best against Ferencvaros, but he was still a contributor. Overall, he’s had 10 goal contributions in a whopping 17 games so far, even getting into the Israeli national team [Transfermarkt].

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Kyogo, played centrally, just works. So too does Jota on the left. However, Jota can also play on the right, something Postecoglou may look to in order to give Giorgos Giakoumakis much-needed minutes.

Mikey Johnston, impressive in a cameo role last night, can play on either side. He’s probably better on the left, and if he’s given game-time, that adds another option.

All in, Postecoglou has some excellent players to choose from. Does a fit James Forrest just walk into his starting line-up?

James Forrest is a Celtic legend, but he may have to once again fight for his place

There are shades of the 16-17 season here. James Forrest often played second fiddle to Patrick Roberts in Brendan Rodgers’ team. The experience did him good, and Forrest ended up being a better player for it.

Could the same happen with the competition he has now? Undoubtedly, Forrest has had the right-wing slot to lose for considerable time now. But a new manager has once again given the Scottish international some pause for reflection.

Let’s be clear here; Forrest is a sensational footballer. He scores goals, he creates goals, and gives defenders nightmares. He’s won an incredible number of trophies with Celtic. He deserves more acclaim than he gets.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

But again, it’s going to be about how he responds to competition. If it’s anything like before, then this is potentially brilliant news for Celtic fans.

After Roberts’ impact, Forrest upped his game something fierce. In 18-19, he reached double figures for goals and assists in the league alone. 19-20, he did the same, with 17 assists.

Injury has hampered the winger for quite some time now. The priority here is getting him fit for a sustained run in the team.

But would he go straight into Postecoglou’s thinking? And how will he respond if he’s slighted in favour of a newer member of the squad?

Time will tell, and it’s potentially fascinating.

Read more: Manuel Pellegrini warns Spanish press against writing off Celtic