RONNY DEILA has backed blundering James Forrest to bounce back from his appalling late miss in the 0-0 draw with St Johnstone on Friday.
The winger blew a fabulous opportunity to snatch all three points in stoppage time when he latched onto a Tam Scobie mistake before rounding exposed keeper Alan Mannus.
However, with an empty net gaping in front of him, Forrest inexplicably flashed the ball wide of the upright. It was an absolute shocker from the Scotland international.
But Deila defended his player and, instead, pointed the finger at the bumpy McDiarmid Park playing surface.
The Hoops gaffer said: “He was disappointed, of course. You can see the bounce-up, so what can you do? You could grow potatoes out there, that was how the pitch was. Strange things will happen on a surface like that and that was a strange thing.”
However, Deila was less defensive of his backline. Had it not been for the form of stand-in keeper Lukasz Zaluska, the four-in-a-row champions could have found themselves on the receiving end of a second successive loss against Tommy Wright’s team.
He said: “It is a miracle that it was 0-0. It was a crazy game. Defensively, we were everywhere. It was too open for my taste.
“It was a very offensive team that we put out. We had Stuart Armstrong in the midfield, two real wingers and Kris Commons is also very offensive.
“They played very directly and we were stretched a lot in the defence. We didn’t push enough from behind and you get trouble.
“It was maybe fun to watch from the stand, but, defensively, it wasn’t the best from us.
“So, it was not our best performance, but Lukasz Zaluska did a very good job. I am happy with that. I am happy with James Forrest offensively because he is creating chances which is very good, while Kieran Tierney came through the game well and Charlie Mulgrew is back and this is all positive.”
And Deila remains insistent that Virgil van Dijk has not told him he wishes to quit the club this summer.
He added: “I hope that he will still be here. I talk with him every day and he has not told me anything different.”