Younger brother shows James Forrest how to score v Rangers

Celtic's James Forrest cuts a frustrated figure during the 0-0 draw with Rangers in December. Picture: Craig Williamson/SNS
Celtic's James Forrest cuts a frustrated figure during the 0-0 draw with Rangers in December. Picture: Craig Williamson/SNS
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When it comes to sibling rivalry in James Forrest’s family, he doesn’t take many second prizes to his younger brother Alan.

With 12 major winners medals – and counting – as a Celtic player, the Scotland winger’s trophy haul certainly overshadows the solitary play-off final promotion from League One with Ayr United which currently adorns Alan’s footballing CV.

But where those brotherly bragging rights are concerned, there is still one source of envy for James. Unlike Alan, he has yet to score a goal against Rangers.

When 21-year-old Forrest junior netted the opener for Ayr in their recent Scottish Cup fifth round loss at home to Rangers, it was the second time he had found the net against them after an equaliser at Ibrox in a 2-1 defeat in League One back in April 2014.

Remarkably, James has so far failed to get off the mark against Rangers in his 13 Old Firm appearances, something he hopes to rectify when Celtic head to Ibrox in nine days time for a potentially pivotal Premiership fixture.

Rangers are the only current top flight club the 26-year-old has not scored against in his nine seasons with Celtic but his form this season, with a career-best tally of 16 goals so far, suggests it can only be a matter of time.

“Alan was quick to tell me he has scored twice against Rangers now, so hopefully I can peg him back soon,” he smiled.

“I would love to score at Ibrox next week. It will be a hard game because Rangers have been doing well since the winter break. It’s always a tough game, whenever we go to Ibrox, so we know what we will face when it comes around.

“You relish these games, that is what you want to do with Celtic. Every game is a pressure game and there is a lot on every game you play. It doesn’t matter who you are playing, there is always massive pressure. But when you are playing the teams round about you, as Rangers are just now, then you want to show that you are at Celtic for a reason.”

Forrest’s previous high point in the goalscoring stakes was back in 2011-12 when he managed a tally of nine. His prolific touch in and around the penalty area this season is a consequence of the most productive and consistent form he has yet displayed for the Scottish champions. He now has a target of 20 goals for the campaign firmly in his sights.

“I would be happy with that,” he added. “This is the first season I’ve ever hit double figures. There are a few more games to go and I just want to play in as many of them as I can and score a few more.

“It has definitely been the most enjoyable season I’ve had at Celtic. I’ve played in the Champions League, winning the League Cup final and scoring in it, as well as playing regularly for Scotland. That’s what you want to do as a player and it’s been great so far.

“We’ve got another ten league games left, a few internationals and hopefully a few Scottish Cup games as well, so hopefully I can keep going and keep doing what I’m doing.”

Forrest believes last Sunday’s 2-0 win at Aberdeen, just three days after Celtic’s tame Europa League exit against Zenit St Petersburg, has set them up perfectly for the run-in they hope will lead to a second consecutive domestic treble.

“The gaffer said that to us after the game at Pittodrie,” he said. “After the defeat in Russia,
everyone was gutted but to come back and play the team who were just behind us in the league, to go there and keep a clean sheet and get the win, made it a good day all round and hopefully we can take confidence from that.

“Since pre-season, it has been a game almost every three days for us. When you look at the schedule now, we have got a few week-to-week games and the manager likes to get hard training sessions in there and prepare us for the games coming up. We have a big squad and everyone will be raring to go.”

It’s hard to imagine Forrest not being in the Celtic starting line-up on current form but he knows he faces fresh competition for his place from on-loan Manchester City winger Patrick Roberts who has returned to full fitness.

“You look at the squad and we have so many players,” added Forrest. “We can do 11 v 11 in training and still have players not involved in that. So we have a big squad with quality players in every position. The manager always says to us that every day in training you need to be at it because if you aren’t there is always someone there waiting to take your place.

“There is competition and I do think it does bring out the best because you know that if you don’t perform then you won’t play.”