James Forrest was the creative force behind Celtic’s emphatic thumping of Inverness on Saturday, but he says his job is easy when there is a striker like Moussa Dembele on hand to stick away the chances he creates.

The young Frenchman helped himself to his second hat-trick in as many games as he continues to go from strength to strength in his sparkling debut season for the Hoops, and Forrest believes he can hit 40 goals this season.

Forrest, like most others in the Scottish game, has been blown away by the impact the 20-year-old has made since his summer move north from Fulham.

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He believes that his teammate is getting even better each week under the guidance of manager Brendan Rodgers, and he doesn’t think he will be affected by the frenzied speculation over his future.

“It’s great to have a player like that,” Forrest said. “You give him a chance and you know he’ll score. He can score goals out of nothing as well.

“He’s a great player and we’re really lucky to have him. He just seems to keep scoring. Even when he’s not been in the game for a while, he gets half a chance and he’ll score with his first touch.

“It’s great to have that in the team. When you know things aren’t going your way, if he can get a chance you know he will put it away.

“He’s on 26 goals now and he could easily hit 40. I know he’ll just take it a game at a time. Hopefully he gets more.

“[The speculation] has not affected him at all. The boys have been giving him a wee bit of stick but he gets on with it.

“You wouldn’t think he’s only 20 with the way he acts. That’s two hat-tricks in a row now. It’s a huge credit to him and the players around him for creating the chances.

“His all-round game is improving as well. His link-up play was spot on [against Inverness] as were his goals. He gets a lot of assists. He’s such a good player for the team and as an individual as well.”

What has impressed Forrest even more than Dembele’s obvious natural talent is his willingness to buy into his manager’s philosophy of constant self-improvement.

“You could tell as soon as he came in that he was a worker,” Forrest said. “He’s always in the gym trying to improve himself.

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“He’s not let anything affect him whether that be being linked with other clubs. He’s just focused on playing with Celtic for the rest of the season.”

The win over Inverness was executed with the kind of clinical ruthlessness that showed just how seriously Celtic are taking the Scottish Cup this season as they go all out to win a historic treble.

But while that is undoubtedly Celtic’s goal this season, Forrest insists that the topic of getting all three domestic trophies into their cabinet is off-limits within the halls of Lennoxtown.

“No one has spoken about the treble at all,” he said. “[On Saturday] the manager just spoke about getting into the quarter finals.

“The manager said, just go out there and start well. We got a goal early and I think the performance throughout the team was really good. It gives us something to look forward to.

“So far we’ve won the League Cup and have done really well in the league, but it still seems a long way away.

“Even though we are in the quarters, we just need to take it from there, make sure we get into the semis and hopefully the final.

“Someone is going to need to play at their best to beat us. But we have had off days as well when we’ve had to grind out results.

Read more: Brendan Rodgers delighted with his wide-boys as Celtic steamroller Inverness

“We can do it that way as well. We need to keep focused. It’s only one game a week for a few weeks now so we need to make sure we are doing it in training and keep our levels up.”

One of the pleasing aspects of the win over Inverness for Forrest was that it again showcased the different challenges that Celtic can overcome.

While the Hoops produced exciting football to get their goals, they also stood up to the physical challenge laid down by the visitors in a bruising opening period with ease.

“I think they got a few yellow cards in the first half,” he said. “They were kicking us but the boys kept going, we kept getting back up and we managed to get a few goals. That’s the best thing to do: keep them running and score more goals to put them down.

“There were a few hard tackles, but that’s football, and you have to be able to deal with that. I thought all the boys did that really well.”