JAMES FORREST is Celtic’s stand-out stand-in, as far as keeper Joe Hart is concerned.

The 32-year-old Scotland international has been a bit-part player this season, but has unfailingly answered the calls when he has been summoned by Brendan Rodgers.

Forrest emphasised his qualities again in the Scottish Cup semi-final against Aberdeen at Hampden on Saturday as he was given the nod to replace a toiling Yang Hyun- jun shortly after the hour mark.

FORREST FIRE…Celtic’s supersub thumps the holders into a 2-1 lead against Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden.

The evergreen Hoops star came on with the scoreline deadlocked at 1-1. Two minutes later, that had changed after the one-club servant drove at the Dons defence before unleashing a low curling drive wide of the flapping left hand of Kelle Roos.

Until the last minute, that looked like being the decisive strike in a topsy-turvy encounter where the holders hadn’t come anywhere near the anticipated standards.

Of course, the Pittodrie club were practically gifted an equaliser to take the tie to extra-time before it was eventually settled by Hart’s save from Killian Phillips’ penalty-kick after the former England No.1 had thumped the post with his attempt.

The 37-year-old shotstopper, who will take his final bow against Philippe Clement’s Ibrox club in the Scottish Cup showcase on May 25, praised his colleague and admitted a personal regret.

Hart said: “I just wish his goal had been the winner. He has been exceptional. I couldn’t think any higher of him as a person. James sets the standards.

ON THE BALL…James Forrest menaces the Aberdeen defence.

“He’s been out of squads this season and he has just trained brilliantly every single day. We’ve had injury problems, the club have made commitments to other players with contracts and things like that, that’s life at the top end.

“But James Forrest hasn’t flinched and has been exceptional every time he has been called upon.”

The netminder, speaking to the Daily Record, added: “He is exceptional in training, he came on and really calmed us down on Saturday, he was brilliant.

“I just wish we could have finished the game at 2-1 in 90 minutes and then it would be James having the conversations afterwards.”


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