Making a defence for under-fire James Forrest

James Forrest appears to be taking plenty of stick from supporters following Celtic’s Europa League exit at the hands of Copenhagen.

Nobody expected the Danish side to visit Celtic Park on Thursday night and knock the Scottish champions out of Europe.

Confidence in the home camp came from the 1-1 draw between the teams in Denmark a week before, with Odsonne Edouard grabbing an away goal for the Hoops.

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But Celtic capitulated on Thursday, losing 3-1 to go out 4-2 on aggregate.

And there’s been an inquest about the situation since, with many players and Neil Lennon taking stick from supporters.

One player, in particular, who is facing criticism on social media is Forrest, who played the full 90 minutes.

According to this Football Fan Cast article, Forrest was a ‘passenger’ for many fans.

But is that deserved criticism? Here, we make a defence for Forrest this season:

1 – His position

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Should Forrest be lining up as a right wing-back in this Celtic team? Lennon’s side were shaped up in a 3-4-2-1 for much of Thursday night’s game and Forrest found himself alone on the right-hand side for all of it. But surely he’s a player better suited to being the right attacker in a 4-3-3 or playing more centrally in a 3-5-2? Jeremie Frimpong was on the bench and hindsight suggests he would have been a better option at that position.

2 – Stats no worse

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Forrest was tied with Greg Taylor and Mohamed Elyounoussi for chances created (2) on Thursday night. He also completed 79% of his passes – better than Elyounoussi (73%) and Rogic (66%), who seem to be getting pass marks. Forrest also made more total passes than both.

3 – He deserves to be cut some slack

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Forrest has 16 goals and 21 assists in 48 appearances. Do we need to write any more? That’s 37 goal contributions from a right winger – only bettered by Edouard in the Celtic team.

4 – He’s reliable

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It may not suit your agenda, but Forrest has goals against Lazio, Cluj, Aberdeen and Motherwell this season – and further strikes against Rangers, Hearts and Hibs too. He’s got cup final goals as well as more than enough valuable league goals over recent seasons. If this makes him unreliable or a player that hides then what does it make Rogic, Elyounoussi, Christie, Ntcham or Johnston, who all have lower numbers than he does over the last three years?

Is the Forrest stick deserved?

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