DOES anyone remember a young footballer by the name of James Forrest?

He was that Celtic winger in over one game in six looked an absolute world beater and for the rest of the time couldn’t beat a man for love nor money.

When in the mood, this was a kid who could speed past defenders as if they weren’t there, but too often, way too often, this player of such high promise was left on the periphery of games to the extent that, despite what some now might claim, his name was booed by a section, albeit it a small one, of the Celtic support.

It was just over two years ago, Ronny Deila was manager, when Forrest turned down the offer of a new contract at the club he’d always played for and also supported. The general consensus was that his agent had fixed up an English team but that wasn’t the case at all.

Forrest just wanted out.

Enter Brendan Rodgers. One of the first things he did was to call Forrest to ask him what he wanted and the reply surprised and at the same time heartened the new manager.

“I want to play for Celtic,” was the answer.

The Forrest pre-Rodgers has long been retired. The new and vastly improved 2017 version is consistently good to great, scores and makes goals, beats men for fun and the biggest occasions gets the very best from him.

Now 26, he still looks 16, the Prestwick lad has won 12 trophies, scored three times in winning League Cup Finals, and his club statistics read 260 appearances, 48 goals and 42 assists.

This season has easily been his best. Against Hamilton in Wednesday night’s 3-1 win, Forrest scored his eleventh goal, a well-timed run and lovely first touch took him past goalkeeper Gary Woods, and these days it’s hard to imagine a Celtic team without him.

Rodgers must take a lot of credit for this transformation but so, too, should the player himself.

Ask any of his team-mates and they would tell you how hard Forrest worked in training and that he’d always been one of the best at Lennoxtown. The problem came on a Saturday.

Wingers are by nature streaky players, it comes with the position, and yet if the individual awards were handed out now then wee Jamesy, as he still gets called, would be in with a shout for the top honours.

“The eleven goals I have so far is the most I’ve ever scored in season and I just want to keep going now,” he said. “We’re only halfway through and I want to get better.

“When the manager came in 18 months ago he let the forward players have a bit of freedom. He wants everyone to add goals to their game and I’m glad I’ve done that to contribute to the team.

“It’s a team game and, for the manager, it’s good to get goals from all over the park. Scoring helps my confidence and I just want it to continue.”

Last season, Scott Sinclair scored 25 goals and it’s far from outrageous to suggest Forrest can target such a tally.

“Honestly, I’ve not thought about it,” he said. “This is the first year I’ve hit double figures so the target for me is the next game and to try and add another goal. I want to score as many as I can.

“Scotty’s record last season was tremendous and even this season he’s scoring and is always a threat. I think that’s what I’ve copied but I need to keep adding goals.”

Speaking of Sinclair, who won every Player of the Year award in May, he is having an odd season in many ways.

He’s not hit the heights of a year ago. Indeed, the Englishman has been poor – by his own high standards – in a few games. However, his superb goal against Hamilton was his 15th of the season and when you tally up his eleven assists – what most players would give for a run of below average form.

When it was put to Forrest that the perception was Sinclair had been off the boil, he said: “It’s not what we think in the changing room. He’s our top scorer and looks sharp. He’s ready for every game and is a great player to have in the team.”

Sinclair hasn't been at his best. The same could be said for Stuart Armstrong, plus one or two others, and the central defence has hardly been rock solid.

Have the performances been as good as a year ago? The honest answer to that is no but Celtic remain unbeaten at home, on course for seven in a row with a trophy already lifted.

Celtic will click soon enough, they are going to get better not worse and as with last season, the January break will do them good.

They will take some stopping.