CELTIC winger James Forrest is recovering at home after being struck down by a mystery virus which forced him to spend five days in hospital.
Neil Lennon has revealed the depth of Celtic’s concern over the 22-year-old Scotland international, who was “floored” by the illness that ruled him out of his club’s midweek Champions League trip to Milan.
Celtic manager Lennon said Forrest was rated doubtful for the club’s next Group H fixture, against Barcelona in Glasgow on 1 October, as doctors sought a confirmed diagnosis of his condition.
“James is out of hospital now and back home with his mum and dad in Prestwick,” said Lennon. “They think it was a deep-lined respiratory virus but they are waiting on a few more tests coming back. Nothing has been confirmed yet.
“He was in hospital from Saturday until Wednesday, which was very concerning, but he is out now and feeling a bit better. He has a bit more energy about him because he was floored. We don’t know where it came from.
“He came back from Scotland duty in Macedonia where he didn’t play, he was in with us on the Friday and he couldn’t play against Hearts last Saturday because of his sciatic problem. I haven’t seen him since.
“Our own medic Tim Williamson has been on top of everything but there isn’t any confirmation of what it was yet. James was at home and just felt really bad with a virus but we need to wait and see what it was.
“He will be out for at least another week to ten days, so it is a race for him to be ready for the Barcelona game. We could have done with him in Milan on Wednesday, it would have been a bonus to have a fully-fit James on a big pitch like that given the way the game started to get stretched a little bit.”
Forrest’s progress at Celtic has been punctuated by a series of injury problems, most notably his sciatica in recent seasons. It is a source of frustration for Lennon, who has a very high regard for the attacking midfielder’s talent.
“He missed a lot of games last season,” reflected Lennon. “Nothing seems to be simple with him. Every injury seems to have a complication but younger players are prone to these types of things. I’m hoping once he gets past this, it will be trauma injuries rather than the sciatic problem.
“With the sciatica, it is an inflamed nerve. He has to do specific stretching, like pilates, and he has a strict regime which we have already seen the benefit of. But he was away with Scotland and then he had this virus which has restricted what he can do with us.”