Hooper: Forrest can fill McGeady's shoes

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The Independent Football

Celtic striker Gary Hooper believes James Forrest can fill the void created by Aiden McGeady's absence during tomorrow's Champions League clash against Sporting Braga.

Forrest has only made three late substitute appearances for Celtic but the 19-year-old was handed his European debut by Neil Lennon during last week's 3-0 defeat in Portugal and set up Hooper's goal in a 2-2 Emirates Cup draw against Lyon on Saturday.

Hooper has seen enough of Forrest to believe he can help plug the gap of McGeady, in the short term at least.

Lennon this week claimed McGeady was injured, while the Republic of Ireland international winger's Celtic Park future is in doubt with a move to Spartak Moscow reportedly close.

"It will be a big loss, he (McGeady) is a very good winger," Hooper said.

"But we have other good players. James Forrest does a similar job if we get him on the ball.

"James Forrest is a similar player, as he showed against Lyon. He put the ball in for my goal and got man of the match.

"If he plays on Wednesday, we will be in with a good chance."

The forward watched from the sidelines in Portugal last week and the 22-year-old does not feel the scoreline reflected the play.

He is convinced Celtic can put the Portuguese side under pressure in the second leg of the Champions League third qualifying round tomorrow night.

"We've been talking about it," Hooper said. "There was nothing in it really other than set-plays and it wasn't penalty.

"I think we've got every chance of getting through. If we attack them and press really high, I think we'll have no problem.

"If we get the ball off them quickly, press them high and get them on the back foot and take our chances.

"If we get one we'll get a few and win 4-0 I reckon."

Hooper scored as Celtic came from two down to draw with Lyon in the Emirates Cup on Saturday, then watched his team-mates launch a strong, late fightback in a 3-2 defeat by Arsenal the following day.

And he is convinced another comeback is on the cards.

"We have to cut the mistakes out - that's what pre-season games are for," he said.

"I thought we played well in the last half an hour against Arsenal.

"If we can press Arsenal like that, we can do the same on Wednesday."