Wednesday 21 August 2019

James Forrest insists goal-hungry Celtic can rattle Romanians

Celtic's James Forrest
Celtic's James Forrest

Gavin McCafferty

James Forrest believes Celtic's prolific start to the season can give them the confidence to claim a crucial away goal in Romania.

The Hoops face Cluj on Wednesday in the Champions League third qualifying round on the back of a 7-0 victory over St Johnstone in the first match of their Premiership title defence.

Neil Lennon's side notched a total of 12 goals in their first two European rounds and Forrest feels they can capitalise if they get a chance in the first leg.

The winger said: "We need to make sure we get a positive result to bring back to Celtic Park. We will go over there and hopefully make it tight but we will also look to score as that away goal could be important.

"I think the manager will set us up to play well and with the confidence we have got from the goals we have been scoring, as a forward player that's you want going into these games.

"You might only get one or two chances and I think the boys will be confident of taking them."

Celtic are determined to make Europe's elite competition after missing out last season following defeat by AEK Athens.

"It was real disappointment because the two years previous we had been in the Champions League and you see the buzz from the fans and the players and staff," Forrest said.

"Everyone wants to be involved in it, they are great ties. Everyone is desperate to get back in but we just need to take every game at a time and make sure we prepare right and do the job over there.

"They have been in the Champions League recently and we know when you go to places like this it's really tough games and you have players who are playing for their international teams. We know it's going to be really difficult and we are definitely not going to take it lightly.

"In the next couple of days we will get to know them more."

Celtic were earlier paired with Slavia Prague in the play-off round if they get past Cluj.

The Czech side lost to Dinamo Kiev in the qualifiers last term but got to the last eight of the Europa League. They recorded wins over Bordeaux, Zenit St Petersburg, Copenhagen and knocked out Genk and Sevilla before losing 5-3 on aggregate to Chelsea.

A number of their players and their coach welcomed the draw, with Slavia only entering in the play-off round.

Coach Jindrich Trpisovsky said on their official website:  "If Celtic advance, which we would all like, I am very satisfied with the draw. Of the likely four who could advance to the play-offs, I wanted Celtic.

"Although sportingly I think Copenhagen would be the most acceptable for us. But I had Celtic as the first choice, because it is Scotland and a great atmosphere.

"I dare say it will be very balanced, because Cluj have a very strong team. I saw their pre-season match with Sparta in the summer, winning 1-0 and playing great. I think it will be very balanced and we will all be cheering for Celtic."

Celtic drew 0-0 with Slavia in a friendly two years ago which resulted in defender Dedryck Boyata missing the next 10 weeks with a knee injury.

Then manager Brendan Rodgers told Celtic TV afterwards: "There were a few challenges where they were nipping at the heels of the players and our players showed good discipline, even in a friendly game, to not react."

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