James Forrest has been linked with a move from Celtic to Norwich today. We spoke to Ruairi Daly of Read Celtic about the player.
What are James Forrest’s best attributes?
James Forrest has pace to burn and if you are looking for a comparison in the Premier league it would be Aaron Lennon at Everton. He can play on the left or the right wing and is most effective when he plays direct and gets in one on one scenarios with a full back. His crossing and finishing are inconsistent but he has got all the tools to put it together at another club, having rejected a four-year deal at Celtic.
How consistent has he been for Celtic?
When James Forrest burst onto the scene in 2010 for Celtic, it looked like he could be on par with Aiden McGeady during his time at Celtic. He scored vital goals in the Champions League against Ajax and Spartak Moscow in the group stages and scored the deciding goal in the final minute against Shakhter Karagandy to send Celtic through to the group stages of the Champions League. but that’s where it ends, really in terms of highlights. Injuries took their toll on him in the early days of his career and he could never string a run of games together.
Do you think he can adjust well to the English game?
I think if you put him in the one-on-one situations with a full back he can beat just about anybody with his burst of pace but the end product will need to be there in order to make it at Norwich. Again, to use the comparison of Aaron Lennon, he can use his pace to get by players and leave them for dead and create something, but he will need to be more consistent. Alex Neil is currently crying out for a winger that can provide that final ball into the box, and will be very familiar with Forrest when he managed Hamilton Academical.
Are you disappointed that he’s not renewing his contract?
I’m not really disappointed that he hasn’t signed a new contract and I could see it happening after his agent went AWOL before Christmas when Celtic tried to open talks with Forrest. He hasn’t been consistent enough during his time at Celtic and has certainly underachieved during his professional career. That could prove to be a good thing for any potential buyer and come back to haunt Celtic as he is yet to reach that potential and is only 24.
He’s had two injury-hit seasons at Celtic Park, would this be a worry for potential clubs?
The injuries are the main concern surrounding Forrest. While he has all the ability and talent, it just hasn’t come together for him so far in his career. This year is the first season he hasn’t spent time on the treatment table and has fallen down the pecking order is what has to be said is a fairly sub-standard Celtic team at the moment. Lots of players are underperforming this season, including Forrest. The priority with Forrest would be managing his fitness and body, which Ronny Deila has done this season effectively. There is a slight doubt in my mind about whether he really wants to make it as a player, or is happy to move south and lift a healthy pay cheque.
Do you think Norwich is a good fit?
At the moment, Norwich could do with a winger and if Alex Neil personally wanted him at the club it could be a very good fit for all parties involved. Norwich’s lack of width, partially due to team selection but maybe also the trust Neil has in his players to do the job he wants means they play very narrow. With Forrest in the team, it could allow them to open up the field and be more direct in their attacks through Forrest’s pace and style of play to run at the defenders head on.
Thank you Ruairi for taking the time to speak to us.