Celtic's James Forrest waiting for the Scotland Euros call from Steve Clarke

No winks have been tipped to James Forrest by Steve Clarke that the Celtic winger will be included in the squad named by the Scotland manager next Thursday as a precursor to selecting his 26-man pool for Euro 2020.

Returned to full fitness Celtic winger James Forrest says he is ready to be part of Scotland's Euro 2020, and hopes Steve Clarke thinks likewise. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
Returned to full fitness Celtic winger James Forrest says he is ready to be part of Scotland's Euro 2020, and hopes Steve Clarke thinks likewise. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

The 29-year-old has fingers crossed, though, that it will be the evidence of the national manager’s eyes that will tip the balance in his favour following his recent return from six months sidelined with an ankle fracture. In the 4-0 victory over St Johnstone over St Johnstone on Wednesday, Forrest displayed the attacking brio that a failing Celtic desperately missed through his loss in September - as he did in 6-0 slaughter of Livingston weeks earlier.

The attacker is convinced he is ready for a summer with Scotland which will begin with Netherlands and Luxembourg friendlies in the first week of June to tune up for the country’s first appearance in a major finals for 23 years. A hoodoo Forrest played a pivotal role in ending with his brace and hat-trick in the wins over Albania and Israel in 2018 that progressed them to the Nations League play-offs.

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“I haven’t talked with Steve Clarke recently because I’ve only really been focusing on Celtic and getting back playing,” said Forrest. “The last camp [for the World Cup qualifying triple-header in March] came too early for me as I’d only played ten minutes. But I spoke to him a couple of camps earlier. I just want to stay fit and be part of it. Let’s hope I can be. I’m feeling good again and don’t really want the season to end.”

Forrest will be sorry about letting go of the professional relationship he has enjoyed with Scott Brown across his entire 11 years in Celtic’s first team. The pair will play together for the last time in the Premiership closer away to Hibs on Saturday and Forrest concedes it will be strange facing up to him in a football pitch when his captain and confidante is donning Aberdeen colours next season. Yet, that will not erode a bond formed when he was a callow 19-year-old making his way in the senior set-up.

“There weren’t many young players in it then but he took me under his wing and it meant so much to me,” said Forrest. “Since then I’ve seen him do it with so many players over the years. He has so much about him, he doesn’t just look after himself, he always thinks of other people. People are only born with that type of character. Everyone who has played with him says he’s the best guy they know - even though everyone who plays against him hates it. That just shows you.

“I was a quiet boy when I started training with the first-team - then I got told I was sharing a room with Broony! That was throwing me into the deep end. It was great, though, and really helped bring me out of my shell. We were totally different characters and there was the age gap too. I didn’t know anyone and next thing I’m rooming with the captain. He was a nightmare at times because I liked my sleep back then and he didn’t let me... But it was the best thing for me, it really was.”

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