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Neil Lennon: James Forrest’s return from injury will be ‘huge’ for Celtic

James Forrest File Photo
(Image credit: Jeff Holmes)

Celtic boss Neil Lennon is delighted to see James Forrest closing in on a comeback as he stressed they would go all out to cut the deficit on Rangers.

Forrest has stepped up his recovery on Celtic’s Dubai training camp and could soon join recently-returned fellow winger Mikey Johnston back in full training.

The Scotland international has been out since September but is set to be available in the coming weeks following ankle surgery.

Lennon feels the reintroduction of both wingers will be a major boost as his side look to chip away at a 19-point gap at the top of the Scottish Premiership.

Lennon told Celtic TV: “We have missed those two this year. They are two exceptional talents, very individual talents, and they can change the dynamic of the way we play.

“Mikey has had a real bad run of injuries and it’s great to see him back and flourishing again, and Jamesy is not a million miles away, which is huge because he has been such a pivotal player for us over the years.”

Lennon remained defiant after his side lost 1-0 to Rangers at Ibrox after Nir Bitton’s red card changed the dynamics of a game which Celtic had dominated for an hour.

“We have got our targets, we have got our incentives, we have a lot to play for still,” said Lennon, whose side have three games in hand on the leaders.

“We are not giving up on the league by any stretch of the imagination but we are going to have to be really on it from here on in and they are capable of doing that.”

Celtic’s trip to the Middle East sparked criticism and their actions were questioned by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, but the Celtic manager claimed it has been “very worthwhile”  with “huge” psychological benefits.

“Players have done some good work, feel better about themselves, they are refreshed, they have had some warm weather, they are feeling good, so all those cumulative effects will hopefully stand us in good stead,” he said.

“I think the players will get the benefit of it in the second half of the season.”