Ange Postecoglou in James Forrest Celtic rave review as he explains what winger had been missing before Livingston star turn

Ange Postecoglou reckons Celtic will need proven winners such as James Forrest as they charge into the title run-in.

The attacker moved to within four of the 100 club goal mark to help his team leather Livingston and race three points clear at the top of the Premiership.

Forrest has struggled for regular game-time this term, but the 30-year-old retains vital trophy-winning experience.

And, having seen him score for a 13th consecutive campaign in Scotland’s top-flight, Postecoglou feels his winger’s nous and ability will be key to the group in the coming weeks.

He said: “James has had a tough time, but I see him every day. That is how I make my assessments and he has worked really hard in training.

“It is not easy when you don’t get a run of games, but the quality has always been there.

“I have had to be patient for when I can throw him in because I know he can certainly help us.

“James is one of the most experienced ones and he can definitely help us.

“He is a winner, you know. We are going to need those types.

“I don’t know if he was lacking in confidence. He maybe lacked a little bit of rhythm and that spark you need when you are an attacking player, but he is an experienced guy and he knew what he had to do and he played his role very well. He and Jota really set the tone.”

Postecoglou had stand-oust across the pitch. Daizen Maeda bagged his fifth Celtic goal to set the team on their way and Nir Bitton stepped into the line-up to perform stylishly.

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The manager said: “I get that strikers are measured by goals, but what he (Maeda) brings to our team is well beyond that.

“But it is great for him because strikers also enjoy scoring. His defensive work from him was outstanding. That really helps us and sets the platform.

Nir has been great for me. I thought he would be important because they are a big physical team and he has that ability to dominate the space around him. He did really well. He broke lines and ran with the ball when he needed to.”

Postecoglou loved seeing the zest and energy in his side and believes the ability to mix it up due to the strength of squad is vital.

Callum McGregor’s missed penalty at 0-0 did nothing to knock the league leaders out of their stride and the Aussie said: “The players knew it was a challenge.

“They went about it the right way and didn’t shy away from it.

“The boys who came in brought some energy with James, Tom (Rogic), Niro and Tony Ralston. The guys have had three games in a week, so it was important for us to maintain our energy. We set the right tempo and try from the first minutes.

“It is the reason we have a strong squad and why we brought players in during the January window.

“It gives us an opportunity to rotate it without losing anything from our performances.

“If we have the ability to change things during games it will help us.

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“I know people have said we haven’t been exhilarating in terms of our football every game, but you cannot question their resilience.

“When we have had to find something we have found something. The fact we missed the penalty wasn’t going to stop us continuing and trying to be relentless and playing our football.

“Credit to them. They are led by Callum, but whatever challenges are there, they are ready to take on.

“It was important to get the win, but the manner in which we played and stuck to our principles all over the pitch was good.

“We need to be the ones who generate tempo. It is hard sometimes when the opposition sits deeper, but, as good as they were with the ball, I thought we were outstanding without it.

“We hunted in packs. We didn’t give them a moment’s rest and our football when we had the ball was good.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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