James Forrest says Celtic want to better 5-1 Ibrox victory

Celtic winger James Forrest believes Brendan Rodgers' men can eclipse their record 5-1 success at Ibrox in April when they return there for Saturday's first derby of the season.

James Forrest stabs home the third goal of Celtic's comfortable victory over Ross County. Picture: Rob Casey/SNS

This weekend’s encounter, which will follow midweek League Cup quarter-finals for both Glasgow clubs, will see the Scottish champions line up against a very different Rangers team from the one that succumbed to the heaviest Ibrox loss in the fixture.

Forrest, though, believes that Celtic must set their sights on winning even bigger. Asked if it was possible to improve on the 5-1 scoreline, the 26-year-old said: “Yes. That is what it is all about.

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“It is about getting better and doing even more. We will be going there and looking for another positive result.”

It was put to the winger – who scored twice in Saturday’s 4-0 victory over Ross County to take his season’s tally to five – that the opening derby was the chance to send out a message that Celtic remained firmly the country’s top dogs following on from an unbeaten treble-
winning domestic campaign in which Rodgers’ men won five and drew one of their six meetings with their city rivals.

“Yes, you can say that,” he said. “I think that is what happened last September with the 5-1 game at Celtic Park. Most of the games were closer apart from the last one at Ibrox. We know it is going to be hard and we want to come out with a win.

“Everybody always says you can forget about the games before but at the same time we have had a good record. And that does give us confidence going into the game.

“They have made some signings and we know it will be tough. We will be up against new faces so we need to make sure we are right at it.”

Central to Celtic’s domination of Rangers last season was 32-goal Moussa Dembele. He scored five of Celtic’s 16 goals in the fixture, with his derby debut bringing a hat-trick that made him the first player to score a triple in a league meeting between the sides in 40 years.

Following a frustrating spell on the sidelines after hamstring problems, Dembele’s first league start on Saturday since April brought the 21-year-old a goal that will put him in contention for the trip to Ibrox.

“Even though it was his first start for a few months he was outstanding,” added Forrest. “He showed he was top quality and it was great to have him back. We are buzzing for him to be back and for him to score as well. You saw how many goals he contributed in big games last season. Yet, you forget how young he still is.

“After seeing him return against Ross County you know he is going to be a big player for us again this season.”