Should Celtic Keep James Forrest Or Dump Him?


It’s sometimes easy for observers of Scottish football to forget that Celtic’s James Forrest is still only twenty-three.

He seems to have been around forever, making his professional debut five years ago and scoring against Motherwell.

Neil Lennon was the manager who handed a teenage Forrest his debut back in 2010, Lennon is now manager of Bolton Wanderers and according to news reports Neil wants James Forrest to link up with him again in the English Championship.

The current incumbent in Celtic’s manager’s office Ronny Deila has laughed off these reports:

“Why go to Bolton? He’s at Celtic.”

“I haven’t heard anything. James is a very important player and we want to keep him here.”

The first line of that Deila quote could also be viewed as a wee mischievously dig at Lennon, who chose to leave Celtic last summer and who then ended up at Bolton a few months later.

But has the Norwegian dismissed the possibility of getting rid of Forrest too quickly?

The winger only has a year left to run on his contract after all (Although I think Celtic would want a fee in the region of £3m-£4m and that could prove to be difficult for the ‘Trotters’).

Certain sections of the Celtic faithful still harbour doubts where Forrest is concerned. There is no doubt that the player has the potential to become a top performer for the side but question marks remain over his fitness and if he can consistently perform at a high level.

When on form Forrest can be quick and direct. The Hoops support have always loved a tricky winger but only when that winger turns up most weeks and entertains.

During the 2011-12 season the wide-man made twenty-nine league outings. That regular run in the first team saw Forrest flourish as he picked up all of Scotland’s young player of the year awards. His performances also had Tottenham sit up and take notice, the London side were continually linked with a £9m move for the Scottish international.

But unfortunately James hasn’t reached twenty league appearances in any of the last three seasons. Injuries have continued to stall his career.

The truth is that collectively, due to various injuries and knocks, James Forrest has almost missed two years of football since his debut in 2010.

Since January, Gary Mackay-Steven has arrived at Celtic Park and his performances on the wing have impressed the Celtic support on the terraces. In fairness there is no reason why the two can’t play in the same side. But as Forrest watches Mackay-Steven gain more and more plaudits, frustration must kick-in!

So with all that in mind why would Ronny Deila be so keen in keeping Forrest?

Well the fact Neil Lennon is interested is a clue within itself. It says a lot about a player if a former boss comes in to sign him for his new club. Also look at Gordon Strachan’s instance of selecting Forrest whenever he’s available. James has only had four managers (if you include Craig Levein at Scotland) and they all hold him in high regard. After just a few months in charge at Celtic, Deila said this of Forrest:

“He is crucial. every manager would love to have a player like James, who can go one on one, can go past people, is quick, makes penetrating runs and creates things.”

When James remains fit he can cause teams all sorts of problems. Not just against domestic opponents but also in Europe and on the international stage. It’s those glimpses of creative skills that must keep his managers wanting more.

It’s funny but I think this is the third summer that I have said that this is the year that James Forrest needs to finally stay fit and reach his full potential.

The competition is now fierce at Celtic and with Scotland. He obviously has the support of Ronny Deila, who is prepared to turn down cash in order to keep the winger at Parkhead.

I can definitely see why Ronny wants to keep James Forrest at his club, as he has said in the past the winger is a ‘special boy’ I just hope we can finally see more of his magic next season!


5 Responses to “Should Celtic Keep James Forrest Or Dump Him?”

  1. I like James Forrest and hope he stays with us as he is a very exciting player but he has too keep his fitness and it seems a problem with the lad but I would give him another try this season and see how it goes. On his game he is magic but he has too prove himself now .!

  2. I like Forrest too, but I think is anyone’s willing to stump up a couple of mil for him, Celtic should let him go – to run down the clock on any sort of decent player is something Celtic simply can’t afford to do.

    Unless the Lennon training regime which had him constantly injured has been replaced by something much better by Ronny et al, he’d be better to go now. Celtic would have signed him up for an extension at least – so that plus the arrival of the lad from ManU who can play up the right wing are probably signs.

    I must admit I was hoping Darnell Fisher would be able to get a run in the side, though.

  3. Dump him done nothing last season.

  4. Dump him done nothing for Celtic. Waste of space.

  5. Dump him done nothing for Celtic. Dud.

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