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FORREST HAILS HOOPS’ ‘CHARACTER’

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JAMES FORREST insisted the hard-fought 2-0 Scottish Cup quarter-final triumph over Hibs at Easter Road last night emphasised the character of the Celtic players.

The Scotland international winger was given a change in the formation by Neil Lennon to play in a more central role.

And it paid huge dividends when Forrest thundered in the opening goal just after the hour mark and skipper Scott Brown added the killer second to make sure the holders were in tomorrow night’s semi-final draw.

It was Lennon’s second successive victory in Edinburgh since taking over from Brendan Rodgers who made a sharp exit for Leicester City on Tuesday.

YOU BELTER…James Forrest thumps in the opener against Hibs.

The triumph over his former team followed swiftly on the last-gasp 2-1 win over Hearts at Tynecastle in midweek.

Forrest, speaking exclusively to Celtic TV, said: “It was a massive win for us given everything that’s happened in the last few days.

“It’s the quarter-final of the Cup, so we wanted to make sure we got to Hampden and we did that with a really strong performance. We played well throughout, but I felt as the game went on we got stronger.

“For my goal, the ball set up nicely for me and I struck it well, so I’m delighted to see it hit the back of the net and we really kicked on after we got that first goal.

“I feel that the last couple of days we’ve really shown the character in the squad with both the performances and the victories.”

Forrest also praised interim manager Lennon and added: “Quite a few of the boys have worked under him before and know what he’ll ask for form us.

“Even the players who haven’t worked under him, have come up against his teams and know the attacking football he likes to play and how hard his teams can be to play against.

THE THINKER…Neil Lennon tells his Celtic players to continue concentrating.

“Everything happens to quickly in football, but credit to the club, they got in a manager who has been here before and knows what it’s like.

“The transition for that to happen so quickly, in a week where we had two really big games, has really settled the players and there’s a really positive mood in the changing room now.”

The Hoops players can enjoy their first free midweek since the winter break as they prepare for the Premiership confrontation with Aberdeen at Parkhead on Saturday.

The encounter is already a 60,000 sell-out and will be the perfect second homecoming for Lennon following two matches on the bounce in Edinburgh.

The Irishman will be working during the week on midfielders Callum McGregor and Ryan Christie who have missed the recent games through injury.

Olivier Ntcham and Tom Rogic will also be monitored as they attempt to return after long-term problems.

 

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Editor

Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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