Brendan Rodgers hopes James Forrest stays with Celtic

James Forrest celebrates scoring for Celtic against Hamilton Accies. Picture: SNS
James Forrest celebrates scoring for Celtic against Hamilton Accies. Picture: SNS
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Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers hasn’t given up hope on James Forrest undergoing a change of heart and signing a deal to stay at the club beyond the end of this year. But, he says that if the winger decides he still wants to move on when his current contract expires then he won’t be begging him to stay.

“I see him as a talent,” said the new Parkhead boss. “Like with every player, though, we want players to want to play with Celtic, who want to be here. If they don’t want to be at the club, that’s absolutely fine. It’s a huge club, one of the biggest in the world, and the chance to play every other week at Celtic Park is a wonderful opportunity for any player and I hope James, over the next six months, sees his future at the club.”

The 24-year-old, who was once valued at around £5 million, knocked back a new four-year deal in February, making it clear that he was unhappy with the lack of game time and stating that he saw his future south of the border.

Rodgers, though, believes the Scot would be better served sticking around and recapturing the kind of form which earned him international honours and saw him being tracked by English Premier League sides

“He is one I am looking forward to analysing. He has obviously had a run of injuries and maybe some that has held him back but he is a big talent. I don’t know him well enough yet but I know he has got talent. From the few days I have worked with him he looks fit and fresh and hopefully the way I work will suit his aggressive style. You have to be able to defend but you also have to be able to attack and he has got great attacking ability so let’s hope he can stay clear of injury and recapture his best form.”

Any player who does catch the eye of the gaffer is unlikely to be hamstrung by the squad rotation favoured by Rodgers’ predecessor. That was a complaint of Forrest’s under Ronny Deila and while the new boss refused to criticise, he made it clear he favours a different approach. “Yeah, there are managers who have rotated every week. But the point is they got the job done. I prefer to work with smaller squads. Sometimes through injury or lack of form it has to change but I will always just pick the best team for the next game. If that means it has to stay the same, it stays the same, if that means it has to change then it has to change.”