Celtic 4 - 0 Ross County

Match info: Scottish Premier at Celtic Park

Date: 22/12/2012 KO: 15:00 Ref: Euan Norris Att: 49,428

Home team/scorers Scores Away team/scorers

Celtic

Scott Brown 46
Gary Hooper 53,64
James Forrest 70

4
vs
0

Ross Co


FT (ht: 0-0)

  • Last Updated: December 22 2012, 18:25 GMT

Celtic manager Neil Lennon will keep a close eye on fit-again James Forrest to prevent what he believes would be a "devastating" blow if he was to lose the winger to injury again.

James Forrest celebrates his goal
James Forrest celebrates his goal

The 21-year-old Scotland international came on as substitute for Beram Kayal against Ross County at Parkhead just before the hour mark after recovering from a hamstring complaint, which had kept him out since the end of October, and immediately looked back to his best as he grabbed the fourth goal in a 4-0 romp.

The Northern Irishman admitted he held his breath when Forrest - whom he described as "the best kid I ever worked with" - went down with what appeared to be a reccurrence of the same injury before continuing.

Lennon stressed the esteem in which he holds Forrest when he said: "It was a huge bonus to see James back. We were able to go to our more natural formation when he comes on.

"He felt his glute (gluteus maximus) towards the end so we are keeping an eye on that but it is great to have him back.

"If we lost him for a length of time again it would be devastating for us because of the wonderful talent that he is.

"He knows he has to report any extra niggles straight away so we are going to monitor him very carefully and make sure his is fit and ready for the games.

"He has worked really hard the last six, seven weeks and you can see his in great shape and great condition and we just need to get him on the pitch."

Asked if he might look for an alternative to Forrest in the transfer window, the former Celtic skipper replied: "They are hard to find. What price could you put on a James Forrest?

"He is the best kid I have ever worked with and one of the best kids I've seen in a long time for his age, with his quality and calibre of his play.

"He comes alive and makes people get off their seats at times so to have him back at this stage of the season is great.

"He brings that pace to the team and opens teams up.

"We were stodgy at times in the first-half because we don't have that natural width but he gives us that."

The home side controlled the first-half with Staggies keeper Mark Brown forced into several saves although former Celt Rocco Quinn and Alex Cooper both missed great opportunities for the visitors.

However, when Celtic skipper Scott Brown struck a minute after the interval the Highlanders' resistance was broken and Gary Hooper helped himself to two classic poacher's goals with his head before Forrest capped his return to action by grabbing the fourth with a fine solo goal.

Lennon said: "I am delighted, thrilled with the performance, it was a good home win which was coming.

"We were excellent, particularly in the second half. I wasn't too unhappy with the first half but we got a clean sheet and four goals and that is our fifth win in a row now so we are starting to pick up the pace."

County boss Derek Adams was left rueing chances his side missed in the first-half.

He said: "It was disappointing because in the first-half we had a number of very good opportunities to take the lead but we didn't take them.

"We didn't defend well enough straight after half-time and were 2-0 down after seven minutes of the second-half.

"You don't get many opportunities when you come to a venue like this.

"I thought we moved the ball well at times, we contained them and frustrated them but we still have opportunities but if we don't take them it makes it difficult."


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