JAMES FORREST can be Celtic’s matchwinner against Zenit St Petersburg tomorrow night – that’s the verdict of assistant boss Chris Davies.

Brendan Rodgers’ No.2 is backing the in-form winger to give the Hoops a boost as they aim for a substantial lead to take to Russia next week for the second leg of the intriguing Europa League tie.

Forrest has been one of the champions’ most consistent performers this season and took his goal tally to 16 – one behind top scorer Scott Sinclair – with his blistering hat-trick in the 3-2 Scottish Cup win over Partick Thistle at the weekend.

Davies reckons the threat of Forrest could hold the key to a positive result.

He said: “James has had a great campaign so far. He played well last season but this year not only is he getting hat-tricks like that, he’s been one of our better performers in the European games going back to Rosenborg.

“You also think back to Bayern Munich at home.

“In terms of tactics and technique, he understands his role in the team and he’s got a very high level of technique. A first touch, the ability to evade people with his second touch plus he’s quick.

“That allows him to perform at this level. He’s in a good moment, in confident spirits.

“You want as many players like that as you can.”

Davies added: “I’m absolutely delighted for James as he’s very humble, hard-working and dedicated. It’s always nice to see players like that getting the rewards.

“I think it’s just a question of maturing. We were aware of James when we were at Liverpool when he first broke on the scene.

“We played Celtic in a friendly. At that point he was the stand-out that I could see in the team. A really bright, quick player. He looked a real breakthrough player.

“Time has gone on and he’s carved out a good career for himself. Obviously, we’ve come in and he’s really flourished.

“He plays in different positions so he has to be adaptable.

“James has added that end product which is very important for wingers.”

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