Noel Whelan admits that James Forrest’s injury blow has come at a “really bad time” for Celtic ahead of their clash with Rangers.

The former Leeds and Aberdeen striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, insists that Neil Lennon will find it difficult to replace the winger’s proven quality for the first Glasgow derby of the season.

Lennon confirmed to the Daily Record that he was “concerned” about the 29-year-old and that he would likely be missing against the Gers after he picked up an ankle injury.

Forrest has missed the Bhoys’ last two Premiership games as well as the Europa League qualifier against Sarajevo.

Whelan admits that while Lennon will have players to fill the void, losing a player with such a “huge amount of ability” is going to be a big blow.

Whelan told Football Insider: “It’s come at a bad time, a really bad time.

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“He’s someone who’s been integral for Celtic in their success and a player that has a huge amount of ability.

“It’s come at the wrong time for Neil Lennon there but this is what happens in football, this is why you assemble a squad of players that can compete and be competitive.

“They will have backups, absolutely, but you’re going to miss a player like that.” 

Forrest has played 10 times across all competitions already this season, with all but two of those appearances coming as starts.

Jeremie Frimpong has taken the Scotland star’s place as a right-sided wing-back in his absence.

In other Celtic news, Alex McLeish has compared a new Hoops signing to a Rangers legend.