Celtic's James Forrest opens up on that crucial miss in Midtjylland Champions League exit
Anyone expecting James Forrest to spend time beating himself over his crucial miss in Celtic’s Champions League exit in Midtjylland doesn’t understand what has kept the winger at the top of the Scottish game for more than a decade.
His sidefooted effort the wrong side of the post from eight yards out just after his 59th-minute introduction as a substitute ultimately proved the pivotal moment that led to Wednesday’s second round qualifier slipping away from Ange Postecoglou’s men in the new Celtic manager’s first competitive test. It stopped them going 2-0 up seconds before an equaliser paved the way for a 2-1 loss on the night, and 3-2 aggregate elimination. Yet, the 30-year-old remains firmly in credit in such moments, and on a host of occasions has conjured up strikes to take Celtic through tight European qualifiers. His 12 goals in continental competition reflects that – and is why only nine players have scored more in this domain donning Celtic colours.
As Forrest embarks on his 13th season playing senior football – and putting an injury-wrecked campaign and his recent Covid-19 close contact – he has put Wednesday’s aberration firmly behind him. “Missing chances is just part and parcel of the game. Sometimes things don't go right for you,” Forrest said. “I had only trained for a week and then came on in the West Ham friendly [the weekend before]. But I wouldn't use that as an excuse and say I didn't take the chance because of that.
“Obviously, the more you train and play, the sharper you feel. But during the game I felt good and you can always miss chances. t wasn't ideal when they scored straight after it, that's what made it hurt a bit more. But over the two legs there were moments where we could have done better and scored more goals. That's where we have to be more clinical for the games coming up in the league and in Europe.”
Celtic need to avoid any Midtjylland repeat when they are in the Czech Republic on Thursday for their Europa League third round qualifier against FC Jablonec. Forrest knows that periods of transition, and managerial changeovers, require to be worked through.
“There's been loads of ups and downs for me at Celtic over the years and Midtjylland certainly wasn't how we wanted to go out – or start with the new manager. But we've got a lot of good players and staff here, who are close together. So we'll overcome it. We have to stay positive, keep our heads up. I've been impressed with the new manager because he's been really positive. The training has been good so far and there's a good vibe about him. Everyone here now – and if we sign more players – will buy into what he wants to do. It's still early for him but he's already putting his own stamp on it with his own ideas.
“I definitely still have the hunger and desire. I've won a lot here and last year at Celtic wasn't good, either for me personally or the club as a whole. So it feels like starting afresh and I want to continue to be an important player here. Everyone knows we're rebuilding right now. But it's important that we stick together."
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