James Forrest: Rodgers didn’t have to convince me to sign Celtic deal

Celtic's James Forrest preview Saturday's game against Inter Milan in the International Champions Cup. Picture: SNS
Celtic's James Forrest preview Saturday's game against Inter Milan in the International Champions Cup. Picture: SNS
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James Forrest admits it is “crazy” to think of the time he has spent at Celtic.

The winger has been with the Parkhead club since he was nine, making his first-team debut at 18 and at 25 signed a new three-year deal on Wednesday, hours before the 5-0 home thrashing of Motherwell in the Betfred Cup.

Ahead of the International Champions Cup game against Inter Milan in Limerick on Saturday night, Forrest was asked how he felt, in an increasingly transient sport, about potentially staying at a club for the length of time which could result in a testimonial.

The Scotland international said: “I have been here since I was nine. It is just crazy thinking about that. I have been here for so long.

“Obviously I signed for another three, maybe four years so I am delighted at that and I will take every year as it comes.

“It is a top club, one of the best clubs in the world. It is massive. Any player is privileged to play here.

“I have been glad to come through the youths and play in the first team as well and I just want to play as many games as I can for this club.”

Forrest’s previous deal was up at the end of the year but he stressed to boss Brendan Rodgers, who took over from Ronny Deila in May, that he wanted to stay at the club.

He was delighted to be given the chance and is pleased to have shrugged off the injuries which blighted the earlier parts of his career.

Forrest said: “He (Rodgers) didn’t have to convince me. I spoke to him in the off-season when he first got announced.

“I said to him I wanted to stay and he said to come back in pre-season and show us what you have got and that everybody would get the same chance to impress.

“All the boys have come in and it is a clean slate for everyone.

“You just need to keep performing. We have a lot of players in the squad and if you are not doing it the manager can change it.

“I have been fine for maybe two years now, but you get fitter the more you train and play.

“At the end of last season I was feeling fit but wasn’t playing games. It is just about playing as many games as you can.”

Rodgers will utilise his squad in Ireland with an eye on next Wednesday night’s Champions League play-off first leg against Israeli side Hapoel Be’er Sheva at Parkhead.

The Scottish Champions are looking to reach the group stages of the Champions League for the first time in three seasons, since Forrest scored a last-gasp winner at home in the play-off second-leg against Kazakhstan side Shakhter Karagandy.

“To score the winner to get Celtic into the Champions League, there is not much better,” he said.

“We got beat 2-0 away from home and then came back and won 3-0 at home so that was great for the club and obviously it was the last time we were in the Champions League.

“We haven’t been in it the last couple of years so we have got the chance with two games coming up to rectify that and that is what everybody here wants.”

Meanwhile, Nottingham Forest goalkeeper Dorus de Vries has arrived in Glasgow as he looks to complete a move to the Hoops.

The 35-year-old was pictured entering Ross Hall Hospital ahead of a medical after Celtic agreed terms with the Sky Bet Championship club.

Rodgers is on the look-out for an experienced stopper to challenge current number one Craig Gordon.

Inexperienced Italian Leonardo Fasan is acting as the Scotland international’s back-up at present, with Belgian Logan Bailly looking at a long-term stint on the sidelines after injuring his ankle in pre-season.

Rodgers worked with the Dutchman at Swansea. He made 51 appearances for the Swans as they won promotion to the Premier League under the former Liverpool boss in 2011.

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