| 15.1°C Dublin

Forrest: Celtic will be stronger in return leg


WIN: James Forrest. Pic: Sportsfile

WIN: James Forrest. Pic: Sportsfile


WIN: James Forrest. Pic: Sportsfile

James Forrest believes Celtic will be stronger in next week's Champions League qualifier following their 3-0 first-leg win over Alashkert on Tuesday night.

In the searing heat in Yerevan, the Scottish champions put themselves into a commanding position ahead of the return match in Glasgow thanks to goals from French striker Odsonne Edouard, winger Forrest and midfielder Callum McGregor.

Brendan Rodgers' side need to negotiate four qualifying rounds this year to reach the lucrative and prestigious group stages for the third year running.

At Celtic Park next Wednesday night, the Hoops will, barring a remarkable turnaround by the champions of Armenia, book their place in the second qualifier against Valur Reykjavik or Rosenborg.

Forrest acknowledged the importance of Celtic's two late goals - he scored in the 81st minute before setting up McGregor for his 90th minute strike - and believes they can build on that performance at Parkhead.

"We finished the game strong," he said. "We got another two goals and I think we could have scored another couple as well so I'm glad we kept the clean sheet and we will take that into next week and I think we will be stronger as well. We knew how hot it was going to be.

"We couldn't play the way we normally do but I think that was good for our confidence, to show we can go out in different conditions and play good football and it was good to get the three goals to take into next week."

Meanwhile, Celtic have failed with an improved offer for Hibernian midfielder John McGinn.

Hibs head coach Neil Lennon confirmed the club had rejected Celtic's latest offer for the Scotland international, who is entering the final year of his contract. Rodgers has earmarked the 23-year-old as one of his key summer targets after losing another Scotland midfielder, Stuart Armstrong, to Southampton.

The latest bid has come in the build-up to Hibs' Europa League opener against NSI Runavik of the Faroe Islands at Easter Road this evening.