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James Forrest eyeing Euros place after scoring on return to Celtic line-up

Celtic v Falkirk – Scottish Cup – Third Round – Celtic Park
(Image credit: Jane Barlow)

James Forrest is targeting this summer’s European Championship with Scotland after scoring in his first start for six months as Celtic beat Falkirk 3-0 in the Scottish Cup third round.

The 29-year-old winger had to have ankle surgery following a Europa League tie against Riga last September and missed the Scots qualifying for a major finals for the first time since 1998 with a play-off win in Serbia.

After a couple of substitute appearances he was thrown in against the League One leaders and opened the scoring with a deflected drive in the 56th minute, with midfielder Ryan Christie and substitute Mohamed Elyounoussi adding to the scoreline

Scotland take on the Czech Republic, England and Croatia in the Euros this summer and Forrest said: “Ask any player and they will tell you they want to be involved this summer.

“Everyone’s buzzing and I have been part of it for so many years.

“You need to be performing but I definitely want to go.

“There’s no hiding that. I just want to play as many games as I can between now and the end of the season and try as feel as I can to get in the squad.

“I came on in the last couple of games but it feels great to start and to top it off with a goal was great.

“Since the turn of the year I’ve been training hard and I’ve felt my fitness levels get back up.  That’s definitely helped me.”

The Glasgow club have been in talks this week with former Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe about the vacant managerial post.

In the meantime interim boss John Kennedy remains in charge and was glad to see Forrest take another step back to his best.

Kennedy said: “He is the ultimate professional. He does everything he can to maximise what he has and it’s good to have him back.

“He started to show what he is all about and he showed that threat that allowed him to go and get the goal.

“We’re delighted to see him on the scoresheet and also to get those minutes in his legs.

“Of course he will want to get to the Euros. But I think Steve Clarke knows that he is a good player.

“He is someone who eliminates opponents with that attacking threat.

“It’s important to have that in the squad and it would be a bit of a surprise if he is not in the squad.”

Asked if he expected news this week about the new manager, Kennedy said: “I don’t know. There has been a lot of talk. But the way the club have operated, they have been very calm.

“They do their business behind the scenes and I have been delighted with the way things have been done.

“I have enjoyed it. It has been good. I will do what’s right for the club.”

Falkirk co-manager Lee Miller was proud of the efforts of his side.

He said: “I thought we were really hard to break down.

“Could we keep that up for the 90 minutes? It was a hard ask. But not one of the players gave it up.

“Right to the final whistle, 3-0 down, they are still throwing themselves in front of things, making it difficult, but you are playing against a top-quality side, on a massive pitch, a cracking arena that half of my players haven’t played in before.

“So I was really proud of the way thy went about their business.”