Celtic and Scotland winger James Forrest expects to commit his long-term future to the Parkhead side imminently.
The 28-year-old is contracted with Celtic until 2022 but summer talks regarding a move to keep him beyond those terms are expected to reach fruition in the coming weeks.
Forrest will become one of an increasingly rare breed of player who will earn a testimonial with the club as he prepares extend a deal that will already take him beyond a decade of service with Celtic.
Forrest graduated through the club’s youth academy and was given his first-team debut by manager Neil Lennon
“We were talking at the start of the summer when the window was still open,” said Forrest. “It is going the right way and it is positive. Hopefully it can be done pretty quickly. I don’t see why it can’t be done in the next week or over the next couple of weeks.
“I have always said that I love being here and I want to stay here as long as I can. If I can get this deal I’ll be buzzing and just want to keep on playing. It is near enough done. Everything is basically agreed. I’ll be delighted to get it done and just keep focusing on playing.”
Forrest is second only to Celtic captain Scott Brown when it comes to major honours with the club. Brown is one step ahead with 18 gongs from his time at the club which brackets him in the top ten of the most decorated players to have come through Celtic. Forrest has won 17 in his nine seasons of senior football with the Parkhead side, the expectation being that the commitment to another chapter at the club would put him on track to surpass Brown.
“It is nice to hear people say that [most decorated modern player] but I just want to enjoy playing and helping the team,” he said.
Forrest chipped in to Celtic’s 4-0 win over Aberdeen at Pittodrie on Sunday with arguably the pick of the goals. His effort was the culmination of a move so impressive that it drew applause in the broadcasting gantry from former Celtic and Scotland manager Gordon Strachan.
“I was under a bit of pressure when I stepped on to it,” said the winger who has netted nine goals so far this season. I didn’t want to mess it up as all the boys had put so much effort into the move.
“That goal was maybe the icing on the cake for the way we played on Sunday. It was a brilliant team goal and summed up the performance.”
Rangers’ weekend win over Motherwell maintained a need for Celtic to continue clocking up the points and Forrest acknowledged that feeling the breath of Rangers on their necks is an added impetus for the Parkhead side this term.
“You see our performances in the last two league games after the Livingston defeat and it is probably the best two that we have put in the league,” he said. “With the league being so tight you need to be up there to stay there. You don’t want to fall behind it; you want to be setting it.
“We are never going to think that because we have won the league before that it makes it easier. You have to earn it and put in the right performances to make sure you are there at the end of the season.”
Jeremie Frimpong’s early Celtic performances have been notable. The 18-year-old was bought with one eye on future development but he has seized whatever chance he has had.
“We signed him when we were on international break and straight away in training I think he impressed everyone,” revealed Forrest. “He got man of the match in the Thistle cup match and has played really well when he has come into the team but I don’t think any of the boys are too surprised because we have seen him in training and we could see his quality right away.
“It is strange because I still feel young! Except I know that I am one of the older ones now, but it is great to see young boys coming through and coming into the team and making a statement.”
l James Forrest was speaking as Celtic announced a partnership deal with BeCordial Hotel Group who will sponsor the shorts of the women’s team.