HIBS kid Jordon Forster today admitted he’d be lying if he were to claim he wasn’t dreaming of facing Celtic – the club he turned his back on three years ago – in next weekend’s Scottish Cup final.
The teenage defender has come from nowhere to force his way into boss Pat Fenlon’s thoughts for the Hampden showdown, particularly with skipper James McPake battling a back injury which forced him to miss the victories over Hearts and Kilmarnock, matches in which Forster impressed.
And, he revealed, the past two weeks have been the best of his life, fully vindicating his decision to leave Celtic and join Hibs where he felt the Easter Road outfit’s reputation for nurturing young talent would give him the greatest chance of success.
The 19-year-old was in line to play his fifth game in just 12 days as Fenlon’s players wrapped up their SPL campaign against relegated Dundee, having featured in two wins in just three days against Celtic’s Under-20 side before being pitched into first-team action at Tynecastle and again at Rugby Park just a few days later.
Although he insisted he was trying to focus entirely on the visit of the Dark Blues, when asked if he’d thought what it would be like to line up against the Hoops a week tomorrow, the 6ft 2in stopper said: “I think I would be lying if I said ‘No’. We need to focus on Dundee but it’s at the back of everyone’s minds dreaming, thinking what if this, what if that.
“But hopefully I get the chance to play today, do well and give the manager a headache for the final.”
Admitting the past few days have passed in something of a whirlwind, Forster cited not just his emergence but that of other youngsters such as Alex Harris, Danny Handling, Ross Caldwell, Sammy Stanton and Dean Horribine as proof he made the right decision when he found himself at a crossroads in his fledgling career. He said: “It’s hard to sum up the past couple of weeks to be honest.
“If you had told me a month ago I would be in this position I’d have said ‘No way’. I’ve been working hard, there have been a few injuries and I have got my chance, it’s been incredible. It’s all happened so fast I don’t know if it’s sunk in fully yet.
“The last two weeks have been the best two weeks in my life without a shadow of a doubt. Does it justify my decision to leave Celtic? One hundred per cent. I didn’t think things were going to work out at Celtic.
“I left Celtic because I’d asked if I’d be getting a professional contract and was told that at that stage, probably two or three months before the end of the season, that the answer was probably not so I decided to move on and start somewhere else and joining Hibs was the best thing I have done.
“The club is renowned for bringing youth players through and it’s been shown in the last two or three months with a lot of young boys coming through.”
Forster admitted the three years he spent at Celtic does act as an extra incentive each time he’s played them and he’d regard it as a dream come true if he were to get the chance to do so again next weekend. He said: “I think every player who has either been released by a club or left a club, when you go and play against them there is always that extra edge.”
Having faced the likes of Hearts hitmen Michael Ngoo and John Sutton and then Killie’s Paul Heffernan and Cillian Sheridan, Forster revealed he was no hoping for a home debut against Dundee, adamant the prospect of playing five games in such a short space of time was of no concern to him.
He said: “I feel all right, I am a young boy and can handle it. Recovering is the key, I’ve not been doing much training, playing games and light sessions keeping me ticking over. I feel fine.”
And Forster disclosed he’s been getting a helping hand from McPake. He said: “Jazza has been brilliant as have most of the boys in the dressing-room, it’s a great dressing-room to be in.
“I’ve had a few quiet words with Jazza, he’s helped me a lot since I moved up to the first team as has playing with Alan Maybury, Paul Hanlon and Lewis Stevenson.”