EUROPEAN veteran James Forrest is hoping for a first against Real Madrid when Celtic’s Champions League excursion comes to a premature conclusion in the Bernabeu tomorrow night.

The sprightly 31-year-old winger has made three appearances in the Group F encounters, but has yet to start a game.

Forrest, who made his debut in this arena against Portugal’s Sporting Braga in 2010, has locked horns with the superstars of Barcelona, AC Milan, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain over the years and is now aiming to have a crack at the reigning European champions.

TON-UP BHOY…James Forrest accepts the accolades from the Celtic fans after scoring his 100th goal for the Hoops in the 6-1 win over Hibs at Parkhead last month. 

The Scotland international, who scored his 101st Hoops goal in the dramatic 4-3 win over Hearts at Tynecastle 10 days ago and has lifted a phenomenal TWENTY honours in his glittering Parkhead career, still retains that hunger and desire to succeed whenever he is given the call by boss Ange Postecoglou.

Asked if he believes he still has a few more campaigns ahead of him at this level, the evergreen Forrest answered: “Aye, hopefully. I signed the deal at the end of last season and I hope to be here for as long as I can.

“There are loads of boys who haven’t played in the Champions League before and they have loved every game we’ve played in, both home and away. It’s massive. Every top European player wants to play in it.

“They’ve seen the way the fans have been as well and for anyone, no matter what age you are, you always want that. You want to continue to be a part of that.

“The hunger is still there, you still want to be a part of these nights.”

BY THE RIGHT…James Forrest fires in a thumping drive in Celtic’s 9-0 romp at Tannadice in August.

Celtic will bow out of Europe for another season and will be looking for their first win at the sixth attempt in the Spanish capital.

Three defeats – one against Carlo Ancelotti’s side and two from RB Leipzig – has left Postecoglou’s side rock bottom with two points from the 1-1 draws against Shakhtar Donetsk.

Despite the failure, Forrest reckons better times are ahead as he insisted: “I think that the performances in these games have definitely shown that.

“The club was desperate to be back here and all of the boys will have enjoyed this campaign – and maybe feel as though they are more eager to get back here again to put some results right.

“It’s definitely been positive, even though we haven’t managed to win a game.

“The way the manager has been, he wants everybody to be positive, to be attacking, and he believes that this is where we should be. You can hear that the fans are buzzing off that and the players have a good feeling about it, as well.

“But I felt the boys were well in every game, had our chances and sometimes we just didn’t manage to take them. We’ve played really well in every game.

“The next time we get into the Champions League, and hopefully that is soon, we can get the same performances and also get results.”

UP AND OVER…James Forrest hurdles a Livingston defender in Celtic’s 3-0 win at the weekend.

Forrest, speaking to the Daily Record, added: “It’s maybe just been a bit unlucky that we haven’t managed to get the results and that win in the Champions League that the players and the fans deserve.

“I said this to some of the boys who have played in the last couple of games, I think if you look at the number of chances we have created then we’ve been in every game, home and away.

“We’ve had loads of chances and that all comes from the manager. Everyone is buying into the way he wants to play, real attacking football. And the more we put in performances like that then the results will come.

“It’s exciting, every player wants to play the way the manager wants to play and I think that will continue.”

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