fbpx Skip to main content

James Forrest will take the same live-for-the-moment approach into his Scotland comeback after rejuvenating his Celtic career.

The 32-year-old was playing in training-ground friendlies when Scotland met up in March for games against the Netherlands and Northern Ireland.

At that stage it appeared unlikely anyone else would break into Steve Clarke’s Euro 2024 squad and Forrest had not played for his country since the previous European Championship finals.

James Forrest and Brendan Rodgers
Forrest has been handed a new lease of line by Brendan Rodgers (Robert Perry/PA)

The winger did not feature at all for Celtic between Christmas and March 10. But he scored five goals in nine games during the run-in and started the three biggest games of the season as the Hoops beat Rangers and Kilmarnock to clinch the title before seeing off their city rivals in Saturday’s Scottish Gas Scottish Cup final.

Forrest will now join up with Scotland’s provisional 28-man pool when they gather at their team hotel in Glasgow on Wednesday afternoon.

“Even in the March international break, I was playing a bounce game for the ones that don’t go internationally against St Mirren at Lennoxtown,” he said.

“It just shows you in football that if you keep working hard you get a chance and stuff can change.

“Obviously I’ve played for Scotland before as well, so it’s not anything new, but just the the way it’s happened I’ve not been in a camp for a few years.

Scotland v Czech Republic
James Forrest last played for Scotland at Euro 2020

“Scotland’s all about players that go there with confidence and we can feed off each other as well.”

With Clarke needing to cut two players from his squad, Forrest will not look as far as Germany and will simply enjoy being back in the fold ahead of friendlies against Gibraltar and Finland.

“How it’s been with Celtic the last couple of months, I think it’s going to be the same,” he said.

“I’m just going to go there and enjoy every day, not even look to the Euro games, just look to the friendlies and just enjoy training and enjoy being a part of it. That’s when I’ve been playing really well the last couple of months.

“Obviously they’ve done really well qualifying and they’ve had a good tight group there. But I think I can add to that and help the boys as well and that’s what I’m looking to do.”

Scotland v Israel
James Forrest after scoring a hat-trick against Israel (Jane Barlow/PA)

Forrest feels the experience of playing in the delayed Euro 2020 finals will help him and most of his team-mates.

“Obviously I’ve not been in a squad since since then, but I really enjoyed that camp,” he said.

“It was a new experience for everyone but I think all the players will definitely take confidence from getting there, qualifying again and beating Spain (2-0 at Hampden Park). I think we will go there with nothing to lose and the boys will do well.

“Obviously it took Scotland a good few years to to qualify for one and we’ve done another one so quick so that’s really exciting.”

Forrest will arrive with Scotland on the back of becoming the second most decorated Celtic player of all time.

Celtic Trophy Celebration
Forrest on stage at Celtic Park (Robert Perry/PA)

His 24th winners’ medal took him ahead of Billy McNeil and one behind another Lisbon Lion, Bobby Lennox.

“I think it maybe hit home when we won the league,” Forrest said. “We went back to the stadium, Celtic Park, and all the fans were there and they were were talking on stage after and they’re talking about how many you’ve won.

“It’s unbelievable, it’s hard to put into words how good it is when you win trophies here and when you start racking them up as well. I’m just going to keep working hard to try and add to that.”