Tuesday 24 October 2017

Mjallby talks up 'special' Forrest

Celtic 2 Hearts 0

Celtic James Forrest scores his sides second goal
Celtic James Forrest scores his sides second goal

Roddy Forsyth

Hearts had hoped for nothing by Christmas, but even that modest desire must now wait until St Stephen's Day at least, following their defeat by Celtic, who remain unbeaten in the league as their campaign approaches the midway point.

Of the 12 points Hearts have shaved off the 15-point deduction imposed on them for going into administration in the close season, seven were accumulated in three games as long ago as August.

Since their most recent win -- over Aberdeen at Pittodrie on November 9 -- Gary Locke's players have taken a single point from four games and have conceded 10 goals in the process. That does not include, of course, the 7-0 thrashing by Celtic in the Scottish Cup tie at Tynecastle three weeks ago.

On that occasion, Kris Commons was lead inquisitor, with a hat-trick.

On Saturday, it was Commons who gave Celtic the lead after 63 surprisingly scoreless minutes and then preserved the advantage by blocking a Dylan McGowan header on the line in the final minute before James Forrest clinched the deal in injury-time with a well-taken goal on the break as Neil Lennon's side extended their unbeaten league run to 16 games this season.

Assistant manager Johan Mjallby is hoping that the former Celtic youth player will be able to put his injury troubles behind him for the rest of the season.

"A fit James Forrest will always start every game but it is proving hard to keep him fit this season. We need to keep him fit and have him more involved in the team because he is a special player for us," said Mjallby.

While glad to see Forrest back in action, the former Celtic defender acknowledged that midfielder Joe Ledley and forward Georgios Samaras could be on their way out.

Both players' contracts are up at the end of the season with Lennon admitting at the pre-match press conference on Friday that he is bracing himself for their departure.

Mjallby, however, is confident that attitude will not be a problem, regardless of what respective decisions they make.

"There is no concern whatsoever," said the Swede. "They are two great professionals and I think Joe Ledley has been playing very well recently.

"The way I understand it is that there are offers on the table and the sooner we get an answer from them the better because we need to look further ahead.

"If they are not likely to be here then we would like to get some money for them and would probably look for replacements in those areas." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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