JAMES FORREST, the most decorated current Celtic player, insists he will not let his standards drop as the Hoops continue their countdown to the new campaign.
The Scotland international winger has won an astonishing TWENTY honours since being introduced as a substitute to the first team on May 1 2010 when the debut Bhoy marked the occasion with a goal in a 4-0 win over Motherwell at Parkhead.
But it’s all systems go for Forrest who saw his progress hampered last time out with persistent injuries that curtailed his first-team appearances.
THREE CHEERS…James Forrest celebrates another title success along with Scott Bain and Tom Rogic, who was making his last appearance for Celtic in the 6-0 win over Motherwell on May 14.
The side’s considerable achievements of last season – with new gaffer Ange Postecoglou guiding them to their tenth title in 11 years while adding the Premier Sports League Cup for good measure – are now in the past according to the experienced forward who took over the captain’s armband for the second-half of the 3-3 draw against Rapid Vienna in Austria when Callum McGregor was withdrawn at the interval.
Forrest said: “For all of the boys who did so well last year, it starts afresh and everything kind of gets forgotten about.
“I think that’s the best way to view it, you can’t look back on what you have done before, you need to keep going and trying to improve. It doesn’t matter what age you are, that goes for everyone.”
Forrest agreed a new three-year contract the day after the team sealed their tenth crown in 11 seasons with a 1-1 draw at Dundee United on May 11 and said: “I was delighted to sign my deal, but I don’t want to just say that I’ll stay here for the sake of staying here.
“I want to win more things and play as much as I can. If that means staying here for the rest of my career, then I’d be happy with that.
“It’s just the same as every year, I’ve had a lot of good seasons before and you just have to try to come back stronger after having injuries and I’ve been doing that.
THAT’S MY BHOY…Ange Postecoglou and James Forrest in pre-season training at lennoxtown.
“I’ve started well this pre-season and I want to continue and, hopefully, I’ll take that into the season. I turned 31 last Thursday, but I love being here and I wouldn’t want to be here if I just wanted to plod along.
“I want to keep trying to help the team, keep trying to win stuff and play as much as I can. I’m looking forward to the season just as I did with last year.”
The Hoops kick off the competitive action on Flag Day with the visit of Aberdeen to the home of the champions on Sunday July 31.
In recent times, the players have been involved in the scramble to qualify for the Champions League group stages and Postecoglou was pitched into the Parkhead dug-out for the first leg against FC Midtjylland on July 20 last year – just a month and 10 days after his appointment as Neil Lennon’s successor.
MAIN MAN…James Forrest is congratulated by Kyogo Furuhashi after scoring the League Cup semi-final winner against St Johnstone in November. Josip Juranovic and David Turnbull discuss the matter between themselves.
The ballot for Europe’s competition is due on August 25 and Forrest, speaking to the Daily Record, added: “I think it’s good for the club and for Scottish football, as well, that everybody can look forward to the draw and going straight into the groups.
“The Champions League nights are class and it’s amazing even when we go away from home.
“It’s been five years, it feels as though we’ve not been there for a wee while, but once that first game comes around it will just feel that Celtic are meant to be in the Champions League with those big nights.
“A lot of the boys probably haven’t played in the competition, so everyone will be buzzing.”