James Forrest would be happy Bhoy if he lands Europa League lifeline

James Forrest had plenty on his mind as he trained with his Scotland team-mates today.

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The Celtic wing ace went through his paces as the national side began their preparations for two massive Euro 2012 Championship qualifiers against the Czech Republic and Lithuainia, while he was also awaiting news of a poss-ible European reprieve for his club because of Sion's breach of Uefa rules.

The governing body are due to convene later today and, judging by Uefa president Michel Platini's intervention at the end of last week, there appears to be genuine cause for optimism among the Parkhead club that they could enter into the group stages of the Europa League by the back door.

And, while there have been disgruntled murmurs from the Hoops support that the club do not deserve to be there because of their limp performances against Sion which resulted in a 3-1 aggregate defeat, Forrest believes the club will happily take anything that comes their way and will seize an opportunity to rebuild their battered European reputation.

"Hopefully Uefa will decide that Sion broke the rules and we get to go back into the competition," said Forrest. "I know people have said we should not be happy at that because of the way we lost the game out there, but it is not our fault if they have broken the rules.

"It was pretty clear before the two games were played about who was ineligible for them and they obviously decided to take a gamble on it. We are not to blame if Uefa stick to their guns.

"If we get the chance to go into the group stages then, of course, we will be happy to take it. We were kicking ourselves at the way we lost the game in Switzerland and, being down to 10 men for the bulk of the game after Daniel Majstorovic was dismissed, obviously made it hard for us, but we will be looking out for news on what Uefa have decided.

"We can only go by what they say and, if we get the chance to go on in the tournament, then we have to be happy to do so."

A second chance for the Parkhead side would give them the opportunity to restore a semblance of credibility to the Scottish game after a disastrous run of results last week.

For the first time since European competition began in 1956, no Scottish club survived after August, a damning indictment of just how far our football has slumped.

Should Celtic be gifted a ticket into the group stages, they will meet Spain's Atletico Madrid, Rennes of France and Italian club Udinese, six games that would give them a shot at redemption.

Similarly, the two European Championship qualifiers against the Czech Republic on Saturday and Lithuania a week tonight give the national side a platform in which to give the country back a bit of pride, as well as ensuring the hopes of making a major international tournament remain alive.

It is a measure of the progress Forrest has made over the course of the last 12 months that he will look to be involved in the crucial double-header for Craig Levein's side, and he is optimistic Scotland can secure a couple of good results at Hampden.

"They are big games for us and a couple of good results would go a long way for us," he said. "I am just delighted to be involved at this stage. It is always nice to get international recognition and these are really huge matches for the country.

"The Czech Republic are a strong side and we know we will need to be at our best to get anything from the games, but hopefully we can get the win.

"And he same also goes for Lithuania. It would be nice to be involved in some good results for the national side after what was a hard week."

While Forrest is looking forward to the nine days he will spend with his international colleagues, he has admitted that, domestically, he would have liked the chance to have carried on SPL duties for another game or so in order that Celtic could build a little bit of momentum.

The Parkhead side got their first victory in four games at the weekend with the 2-0 win over St Mirren in Paisley.

The 20-year-old had his eyes opened to the level of criticism that comes when things are not going so well at Celtic, and he admitted that last week was probably the hardest of his career to date.

"It was tough because there were a lot of people unhappy about the result against Sion, ourselves included," he said. "It was a difficult few days. As a player, all you can do is look to get back out on the pitch and show what you can do and I think we all knew just how important it was for us to get a win over St Mirren.

"We just wanted to make sure we got the victory and got the points. Now we have done that it means we can go into the international break a little bit more relaxed.

"There would have been a lot more pressure had we not got the win. Now most of us will be away on international duty although, to be honest, it would maybe have suited us to play a couple more games first and get a bit of momentum going."

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