Noel Whelan has backed Celtic winger James Forrest to be a pivotal player for new manager Ange Postecoglou in the upcoming season.
The Lowdown: Celtic gear up for 2021/22 season
With competitive football upon the Hoops once again after the off-season, many onlookers near and far will be intrigued to see how they fare during the forthcoming campaign.
Bringing in new faces will be important to this process, although getting the best out of those who had a season to forget in 2020/21 will also take precedence.
One man who would definitely fall into the latter category is Forrest. Although he is now fresh out of self-isolation and back in training, Tuesday’s crucial UEFA Champions League qualifier against Midtjylland may come too soon for the 30-year-old [Daily Record].
Will James Forrest be a key player for Celtic this season?
The Latest: Whelan expects Forrest to be ‘like a new signing’
However, Whelan has been very complimentary about the impact he expects Forrest to have under Postecoglou this year in an interview with Football Insider, stating:
“It will be a big boost to have James Forrest back in general. Not just if he can make it for that game [FC Midtjylland].
“He missed so much of last season. Postecoglou needs everyone back fit as soon as possible because the new season is very nearly upon us. They need continuity as soon as possible.
“To have Forrest back is great news because we know how important he is to the side. He is very experienced and knows the club inside out.
“When you are starting a new season with a new manager you need these kind of characters in the dressing room. To have him back is like a new signing, even if Tuesday comes too soon for him.”
The Verdict: Forrest’s return will be a massive boost to everyone at Celtic
Whelan correctly points out the quality and consistency that the Scotland international has produced on the biggest of stages for Celtic throughout his career. Across his time at the club, Forrest has registered 186 goal contributions in 412 fixtures for the Hoops, with 93 goals and 93 assists [Transfermarkt].
Enduring an injury-ravaged 2020/21, he could only muster five goal contributions from 17 appearances, with four goals and one assist [Transfermarkt].
Never shy to get involved in offensive situations, he averaged 1.9 shots per game in the Premiership whenever he did feature, proving a constant bugbear for opposition defences [WhoScored].
Moving forward, the reintroduction of Forrest to Celtic’s starting XI should be a massive boost to everyone connected with the club due to his diverse range of capabilities. Hopefully he will be back to his best after his personal torment last season.
In other news, Celtic have opened talks to sign this England international.
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