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FORREST’S FRENCH FANCY

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JAMES FORREST admits he will be “buzzing” to meet up with his old Celtic team-mate Moussa Dembele on Saturday.

The French international striker, who celebrates his 24th birthday today, will line up for Lyon against Neil Lennon’s side when the teams clash during the Hoops’ three-game warm-up in France.

The nine-in-a-row champions take on Nice on Thursday, Dembele’s side two days later – both at the Groupama Stadium – before moving onto the French capital to face Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday, July 21.

Forrest, who turned 29 on Tuesday, is delighted to be a home Bhoy and has been happy to remain at Parkhead and join legends such as Billy McNeill, Jimmy Johnstone and Bobby Lennox who picked up nine successive league titles from 1988 to 1974.

Dembele, who joined the club in a bargain £500,000 cross-border move from Fulham in June 2016, left in a £19.8million switch to Lyon two years later.

IT TAKES TWO…James Forrest and Moussa Demebele hold the 2017 League Cup after scoring the goals that beat Motherwell 2-0.

Asked if he is a tad envious of seeing team-mates depart in big-money moves, Forrest, speaking to the Sunday Mail, answered: “No, I’m not.

“If you ask any of the boys we’re buzzing for any player who leaves and does well.

“When a player goes to a Premier League team or, like Moussa, goes abroad then we all hope he succeeds because it looks good for Celtic — and for us.

“It shows we have a standard of player that can improve top teams. It’s good when you see these players move on and play in the Champions League and so on.”

Forrest added: “Everybody will be buzzing to see Moussa.

“Most of the boys here played with him and it always feels a bit strange when you go from being team-mates to playing against someone.

“Moussa has kept in touch. He came over when we got the league trophy last year and he was in the dressing room with us after the match.

“We’ve had a really tight, close squad for the last few years and it’s the same with a few others who have left.

“They keep in touch and are always welcome. I remember hearing we were going to sign him from Fulham and being impressed.

HAMMER OF GERS…Moussa Dembele celebrates a goal against the Ibrox side in 2016.

“We benefited from the cross-border rule because if he had stayed in England he would have cost a lot of money.

“The club managed to get a deal done and we were pretty excited about it. We had all seen him playing before and we knew he was highly rated.

“It lifts everyone when you find out a player of that quality is joining you. As a winger, he was a great striker to play alongside.

“He’d always make good runs and give you something to hit, but, more than that, he would also win us games on his own.

“Moussa stepped up in big matches and led the line brilliantly. He’s continued to do well since moving to Lyon.”

Celtic will set the Premiership campaign in motion on Sunday, August 2, when Hamilton Accies are the visitors on Flag Day as the Parkhead men begin the bid for a record-breaking 10 titles in a row.

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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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