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Celtic’s James Forrest: ‘I have not thought about Scotland return’

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James Forrest says he hasn’t given any thought to a Scotland recall but would jump at the chance to go to the Euros after a sudden reappearance as an important player for Celtic.

The 32-year-old has only been used sparingly throughout the season by Brendan Rodgers but he scored a vital goal in the Scottish Cup semi-final against Aberdeen before netting a double against Dundee on Sunday in only his fourth start of the season.

Those impressive performances have led to some fans and pundits suggesting he could be an option for Scotland manager Steve Clarke as he weighs up his selections for the European Championships in Germany this summer.

Forrest’s lack of game time over the season, and the fact that the natural wide man isn’t a natural fit for Clarke’s system, would seem to count against a surprise call-up but there are other factors that could be in his favour.

UEFA are likely to increase the permitted squad size from 23 players to 26, giving Clarke the opportunity to take more risks and include a ‘wild card’ choice or two.

The Scotland boss also has a worrying injury list to contend with, which could see him cast the net a little wider.

Lewis Ferguson has undergone surgery on a knee injury, while Stuart Armstrong is facing a race against time to be fit. Manchester United star Scott McTominay was substituted off with what looked to be a serious injury at the weekend and Clarke is awaiting news on the condition of one of his key players.

There are also serious concerns about the right wing-back position, with Aaron Hickey and Nathan Patterson both fighting to be fit for the summer.

Forrest hasn’t been called up by Scotland since the last Euros but has 38 caps and five goals at international level.

He says that his mind has been on getting games for Celtic and that the Scotland situation hasn’t even crossed his mind.

“Honestly, I have not thought about it,” he said after being named player of the match in Celtic’s 2-1 win over Dundee.

“I wasn’t in the (Celtic) squad around January and February and I have been buzzing being back in about it.

“I have managed to get on the scoresheet a few times and come on and helped the team.

“I just want to keep taking it game by game and help out here.”

Forrest has won 23 major trophies with Celtic and has scored over 100 goals for the club but this season has seen him on the sidelines while fit for the first time. He admitted that wasn’t easy to deal with but said that he had kept focused and worked to be ready if called on.

“It was really difficult,” he said. “I have never really had it before but you believe in yourself and, maybe because I am older, I know football can change quickly through suspension and injuries and, especially at Celtic, if you don’t win a game then it can maybe make the manager change his mind.

“I knew if I kept training well, I was always thinking I would get another chance.

“I feel since I came back into the squad five or six weeks ago that I have contributed when I have come on. Obviously last weekend was really good personally and getting to the final as well.

“I felt really fit from pre-season right up until November. We obviously have a lot of wingers in the squad and you need to fight for your place at a big club like Celtic. It has never been any different.”

The winger admitted he doesn’t have any holidays booked for the end of the season and would welcome the chance to be on the plane to Germany with the Scotland squad.

“If you ask any Scottish player, they would want to be involved,” he said. “I went to the last Euros and it was a great experience, right from the first day of camp to the end. It was really good to be part of.

“But I’m going to just concentrate on the games here.”

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