James Forrest desperate to embark on run before winter break

James Forrest will not forget 2018 in a hurry. The Celtic and Scotland winger has made several personal breakthroughs in this calendar year, including his first goal against Rangers, his first-hat-trick for Celtic, his first goals for the national team and a hat-trick for them as well.

It has been a demanding year, though. Tonight, when Motherwell come to Parkhead, he will make his 58th appearance for club and country and will sail past the 60 mark before the derby against Rangers at Ibrox on 29 December.

The 27-year-old concedes that it has been an exhausting schedule but insists that he and his fellow marathon men Callum McGregor (64 games and counting) and Kieran Tierney (53) are not at risk of burnout.

Sign up to our Football newsletter

Sign up to our Football newsletter

“I still feel good,” said the 27-year-old. “When you are in the run of playing games, you enjoy it and that’s what you want to do. If you don’t have a game every couple of days, then you’re training hard in the middle of the week anyway so it’s good to play instead.

James Forrest is targeting a win against Motherwell tonight. Pic: Craig Williamson/SNS

“Obviously, the intensity of the games takes a bit out of you but that’s where the manager is good with the squad we have. He changes it and that freshens everyone up.

“A game every three days is quite a quick turnaround, but once the next game comes you’re buzzing again and you want to keep playing.

“Away from football, it’s hard to switch off, but you have to try. When the games are coming thick and fast, you’re training and you’re travelling all the time. I just take it easy when I’m off, see family, friends and chill.”

Celtic dropped two points at Fir Park a fortnight ago, missing a penalty and allowing Danny Johnson to claim a late equaliser in a 1-1 draw. The 2-0 defeat to Hibernian at Easter Road on Sunday saw them slip to third place, behind Rangers and Kilmarnock, although they have played fewer games than either of their rivals.

Even so, Forrest believes it’s time that Celtic began to put their house in order.

“Do we want to stamp an authority? That’s what we’ve done before and that’s what we want to keep doing,” he said. “We know it’s tight at the top just now but we just have to keep focus on our games.

“There’s four games to go until the break and we’ll take each one as it comes.

“At this time of year everyone is playing a lot of matches so we just need to get a good result against Motherwell.

“We’ve answered questions before and it’s good, mentally, for everyone to know that we can do that but it’s not as easy as just saying: ‘Oh aye, we need to do it again.’”

The reverse at Easter Road followed hard on the heels of the home defeat by Red Bull Salzburg. Celtic haven’t lost three consecutive matches since March 2007 and Forrest is in no rush to repeat that particular treble.

“Obviously, you want to break records the other way and you’re not going to win every game but we hope to get back to winning ways because that’s not the type of record we’d want,” he said.

“It’s going to be difficult and we know that, having played them just two weeks ago. We need to be positive and aggressive right from the start. Motherwell made it difficult at Fir Park and it’ll be the same at Celtic Park. ”

Forrest also backed 20-year-old Odsonne Edouard, the £10m signing from Paris St Germain, to cope with the pressure of being the last front man standing at the club following the sale of Moussa Dembele and the continued absence of Leigh Griffiths.

“He handles it all well,” he said. “Big Odsonne is chilled and he’s got the right mentality to handle it.”