'Off the Scale' - Exclusive: McLeish reacts to shattering Celtic blow
Alex McLeish has claimed James Forrest will be a massive loss for Celtic as he prepares to undergo ankle surgery.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, the former Scotland manager has hailed the winger as a crucial player for club and country.
Neil Lennon confirmed the 29-year-old is set to go under the knife this week to sort out the ankle injury that has disrupted him this season.
Forrest has not featured for Celtic since September and has missed their last eight matches in all competitions.
His former manager is in no doubt how much he will be missed.
“James Forrest has been a great servant to Celtic and to Scotland,” McLeish told Football Insider.
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“If you look back to the qualifier against Israel last year then that hat-trick was just off the scale, it was fantastic and his finishing that day just shows you what kind of contribution he can make when he gets unleashed a wee bit.
“He’s a great, consistent player for Celtic, has been over the years, he does his fair share of tracking back, he’s a team player and he’s a loss to Celtic, no doubt about.
“To lose him, to lose Christie and Edouard all at the same time is a blow because the quality goes down, especially when you’ve got some new guys trying to cut their teeth.
“That’s normal, that you would miss a player like Forrest and hopefully a speedy recovery for him.”
Forrest has played 405 times for Celtic since graduating from their academy, scoring 91 goals and supplying 93 assists in all competitions.
He is mainly used on the right wing by his club but has regularly dropped back to slot in a wing-back.