Celtic’s James Forrest ready to fight for place

James Forrest made an impact after coming on as a second-half substitute against Cluj. Picture: SNS
James Forrest made an impact after coming on as a second-half substitute against Cluj. Picture: SNS
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CELTIC winger James Forrest is keen to meet manager Neil Lennon’s demand for improvement when the Scottish champions play the third match of their pre-season tour in Germany tonight.

After suffering narrow defeats by Ukrainian side Sevastopol and Romanian outfit Cluj, Lennon’s squad take on German second tier club Greuther Furth at the Trolli Arena in Bavaria.

As the start of Celtic’s Champions League campaign looms ever larger, with the first leg of their second qualifying round tie against Cliftonville taking place in Belfast in eight days’ time, Lennon says he is looking for more from his players tonight.

Forrest made a positive impact as a half-time substitute against Cluj on Saturday, setting up Georgios Samaras for Celtic’s goal in the 2-1 defeat. It was the Scotland winger’s first outing of pre-season and he hopes to build on it against Greuther Furth, who finished bottom of the Bundesliga last season.

“The manager knows we are over here to work hard and that was our second game in only a couple of days,” reflected Forrest. “Obviously he wants better but we are making progress and we will hopefully improve for the next one.

“A few of the boys will train in the build-up and be ready for that game. We’re all raring to go in these games, we want to help ourselves get back to fitness as soon as possible and we all want to make a point and stay in the team. I’ve just come back (from injury). It was the same problem I’d had last season, so they thought I could do with a bit more training to improve my fitness before I went into a game.

“I came on at half-time on Saturday and felt good for the 45 minutes I got. I’ll do a bit of recovery now and hopefully get a bit of time on Tuesday as well – I want to push on from this now I’m back. It was a hard game (against Cluj). They are a tough team to play against. They have Champions League experience but I thought we did alright. We just need to make sure we are building on each game and moving forward.

“The trip has been good so far, the games are coming quick and fast so we’ll be ready for the Cliftonville game when it comes around. We’re doing enough in training and we’re changing the squad around with each game to give us all a chance of being ready.”

Victor Wanyama, Emilio Izaguirre and Tom Rogic all joined up with Lennon’s squad at the weekend after extended close-season breaks because of international duty with Kenya, Honduras and Australia respectively.

“The game might be too soon for Victor and Emilio but we’ll see how they are,” said Lennon. “We’ll have to balance training with the games because we don’t want to pick up any injuries.”