JAMES Forrest refused to blame Celtic’s off colour showing at Kilmarnock on Saturday on the artificial Rugby Park pitch. The Parkhead side lost domestically for only the second time under Brendan Rodgers in Ayrshire, losing central defenders Dedryck Boyata and Kristoffer Ajer to injury in the process, with Jozo Simunovic not risked on the controversial synthetic surface. But the Scotland winger said there were no excuses for Celtic’s inability to test Kilmarnock goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald until the dying minutes – Rodgers said Celtic could have played ‘until midnight’ and not scored - and the Parkhead side simply got what they deserved.

“We don’t want to make excuses," he said. "We have played on this pitch a few times before and we’ve won. We know what it’s like and we’re not going to blame the pitch. I know it is difficult but you can say it is the same for both teams. The Kilmarnock pitch is a bit better than Hamilton’s. Obviously, it’s not ideal but we have come here and won before but we didn’t manage to do that today.

“From start to finish we weren’t good enough,” Forrest added. “We got what we deserved and we just need to show a bit of character now to come back from this. We started actually all right, for the first 10 minutes, but then the couple of boys going off maybe changed the way the game was going, but we don’t have any excuses. The better team won and we just need to make sure we get a positive result next week in the Cup.”

Having compiled an invincible domestic season during the previous campaign, Celtic have now failed to win on eight of their 26 league matches and Forrest is convinced that the competition has raised their game. “The league is definitely stronger with Hibs coming up and it’s more competitive. You can see that with the way results have gone this season and we need to be at it every single game and we weren’t on Saturday.”

The injury list is growing at the club but Forrest is convinced they have enough strength and depth “The squad we’ve got is massive, we have got a lot of players,” he said. “A few boys are coming back this week. The squad is really strong in depth so we do have the players to cope.”