Celtic captain Scott Brown has singled out James Forrest for special praise ahead of the start of the Scottish Premiership season, believing he has been ‘phenomenal’ for Brendan Rodgers’ side.
It’s no secret that Forrest has had his ups and downs at Celtic. At one point under Ronny Deila it looked like he was destined to leave the club upon the expiration of his contract.
The fact it unusually expired in December instead of at the end of the 2015/16 season appeared to save his Hoops career, with the arriving Rodgers ensuring he stuck around.
More fashionable wingers have come and gone at the club, most prominently Patrick Roberts, but Forrest has endured and has emerged as one of the side’s most important players over the last 18 months.
It’s something that hasn’t gone unnoticed by his captain.
As quoted by The Evening Times, Scott Brown said:
We had a wee tweak of formation.
James went out wide and as soon as we found room for him he creates chances. He’s hit the ground running this season too. He was phenomenal last season and he’s looked even better than he did last year and I didn’t think that was possible.
His fitness levels are incredible. He’s getting up the park and he’s also managed to defend when he needs to too. The manager is putting new things into his game and he keeps ticking boxes.
James Forrest spoke recently about his desire to stay at Celtic for as long as possible, which is welcome, especially considering he again has less than a year on his contract.
Retaining his services should be a massive priority for the club, even if he’s showing no signings of wanting a move elsewhere, he’s become that important.
Last season he had his best campaign since making a breakthrough into the first-team at the age of 18. He scored 12 goals and assisted 10 more in all competitions. As Brown notes, it’s form he has carried into the early stages of this season, already scoring two goals and creating five assists in UEFA Champions League qualifying.
Despite everything, he appears to always have some detractors within the support, a feeling that will hopefully be erased by another strong season this year.
Rodgers clearly appreciates his value, his teammates do too and slowly but surely he is winning the trust of fans.
Can he improve upon last season’s excellent showing?
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