James Forrest throws down the Celtic gauntlet as goal hero winger determined to ‘show we are back’

Hampden hero James Forrest reckons Celtic setting up a Premier Sports Cup Final shows the Parkhead men mean business under Ange Postecoglou.

The Hoops star came off the bench to grab the winner against stubborn St Johnstone and he’ll now sit back and see if it’s Rangers or Hibs they’ll face in the showdown next month.

Forrest is just thrilled to be back in the hunt for more silverware after ending up without a medal last term for the first time in 11 years.

The 30-year-old reckons the new look Celts are finally hitting the heights again and ready to get back in the winners’ enclosure.

Forrest said: “Was this a chance to show we are back? Definitely.

“Last season was the first in I don’t know how long we didn’t win a trophy, so with a new team and a new manager it’s great to get into a final.


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“It’s different from when the manager first came in, there has been a lot of turnaround and players leaving.

“Players have come in, it was maybe unsettling at times but I think lately things have been really positive and really good.

“For everyone, especially the boys who have come in and haven’t played in a final before, it’s great we have that to look forward to in a month’s time.

“We had to get there.”

Forrest was delighted to be the man to make the breakthrough.

The wide man has been forced to take a backseat in the last 12 months after a knee injury wrecked his season last year.

He returned in time for the Euros but has been limited by a series of issues this term – but his agony was blown away in style at Hampden.

Forrest has made a habit of making an impact on the big occasion and he struck again when Celtic needed it most.

The Parkhead men were struggling to break down rock solid Saints until the attacker pounced with just 17 minutes to go.

Celtic's James Forrest makes it 1-0, beating St Johnstone's Zander Clark during a Premier Sports Cup semi-final match between Celtic and St Johnstone at Hampden Park
Celtic’s James Forrest makes it 1-0, beating St Johnstone’s Zander Clark during a Premier Sports Cup semi-final match between Celtic and St Johnstone at Hampden Park

He said: “It feels different class. It’s unreal coming on and managing to score a goal, which turns out to be the winner that gets us to a final.

“That’s why you work hard, for days like today.

“You can look at the last year, but I still try to take out the positives. I got back, made the Euros squad and played under the manager at the start of the season.

“I’ve been out but you put the work in to get back for days like this.

“I’ve been training and building it up in the last six weeks. I’ve been coming on of late but I’ll keep working hard and building up the minutes.

“We knew that St Johnstone are a good side who did really well in the cups last season, but with the fans back it helped us.

“You could see they didn’t get frustrated, so that helped the players keep going.

“Everyone is buzzing to come back here for a final now.”

St Johnstone will be sick of the sight of Forrest as he took his tally against the Perth men in to double figures.

He said: “Someone told me I’d scored 10 goals against them. I was just glad to do it here.

“St Johnstone did really well in the cups last year and we knew it would be a really tough game.

“They played really well again and I was just delighted we scored.

“Yeah, I don’t know if it hit off the boys hand before if got to me.

“But I was just delighted to put it away as reward the boys who’d put in so much hard work up to that point.”

Forrest fired Celts on their way on the day they paid tribute to club legend Bertie Auld.

But the wide man has chiselled his own place in the club’s record books and he’s now incredibly chasing his 20th major honour with the Hoops.

Forrest has already secured his spot among the most decorated Celts in history but he has no intention of stopping to take count as he’s hungry for more.

He said: “It’s always good when people tell you about what you’ve done in the past but I am still playing in the now. So I want to keep adding to it.”

Forrest isn’t fussed who he faces in the Final either.

He added: “ will maybe watch the other semi-final on Sunday and see who we get.

“We are just looking forward to the game.”

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