James Forrest delighted to be back in action
Celtic winger James Forrest admits his long lay-off made him at times feel like “an outsider”.
The 29-year-old’s rehabilitation from an ankle problem was complete when made his comeback as a 78th minute substitute in the goalless draw against Dundee United at Tannadice on Sunday.
Forrest had not played since September 24, when he came off in Celtic’s 1-0 away win against Riga in the Europa League qualifier with an injury that required an operation.
And as the Scotland international looked forward to more game time, he revealed Covid-19 protocols and restrictions had also helped keep him on the periphery.
“I was absolutely delighted to get some minutes,” Forrest told Celtic TV. “I can’t even describe how it felt. It’s been such a long time.
“I was delighted to be back training with the boys over the last 10 days or so and get back out on the pitch and trying to help the boys.
“It was a great feeling and I just want to keep continuing my comeback, get more training under my belt and, hopefully, get more games as well.
“It was really tough to not be involved. With all the protocols, I’ve had to watch most of the games on Celtic TV.
“You feel like an outsider and you want to be there constantly. It makes you want to work harder to get back as quickly as possible.
“It was towards the end of December that I was ready to start running again outside.
“It was simple things as well, like being in the gym at the same time as the rest of the boys. I felt more a part of it from then. That helps and lifts your mood.
“A lot of the other boys have had injuries in their careers and have been good with me and made me still feel a part of it.”
Forrest is more than grateful for the support he received from the backroom staff who took him through the whole fitness journey.
“The hardest part was just after my operation,” he said. “I would be in Lennoxtown at different times from the rest of the boys.
“There were a lot of away games at the time and their days off were different from mine so I went a good couple of months not seeing much of them. There were a lot of times where it was just me and one other physio.
“As it went on and I started training outside and was in amongst the team more. That made me feel a lot better and keeps you going through your rehab.
“Credit to the staff here, they’ve been there for me every day.
“They’ve been on it every day and there weren’t too many other injuries in the squad so the physios invested a lot of time in helping me and getting me back. It’s a credit to them.”