JAMES Forrest believes the scorching heat of Armenia will prove perfect preparation for Celtic’s bid to reach the Champions League when it comes to the final qualifiers, writes Neil Cameron.

The winger hopes and expects his side to come through this first round match against FC Alashkert and while the next game will be against Norway’s Rosenborg or Valur of Iceland, the third and then final qualifying round could send them to a similar country with the exact same weather.

Forrest even joked about the heat as he stood still sweating while speaking to the media – but he will have to do a lot of running about tonight.

Read more: Brendan Rodgers insists Celtic are fitter than ever ahead of Champions League kick-off​

The 27-year-old winger said: “It is obviously going to be difficult. But it is good at the same time because this will be a learning curve and we have played in hostile atmospheres in the Champions League. It will be good for us going forward because it’s a different type of game.

“We were in Austria before which was hot but this is even hotter and so we will have to manage the game properly.

“I think Azerbaijan was as hot as this, even at night when it was really humid. It is hard to adapt to it but come the game, the adrenalin will get us through it.

“I like these experiences. You never think you will visit a country like Armenia. It’s good to play football in different environments and, hopefully, we’ll get through and if we get a qualifier down the line somewhere similar to this, then we will have this experience to call on,” the Scotland international added.

Forrest has been here before. He knows that picking and choosing when to make runs will be crucial if he is to last 90 minutes.

He said: “The way the manager wants to play, he wants everyone to be at it, so every position, not just mine, is going to be a test because of the intensity we like to play at. I think there will be times when it will be slower than we are used to and we have keep our intensity up.

“What is key is keeping our concentration for 90 minutes and get a good result to take back to Glasgow.

Read more: Brendan Rodgers insists Celtic are fitter than ever ahead of Champions League kick-off​

“We are well looked after. We came here two days before the game, which is much better preparation than, say, being here 24 hours before and trying to adjust to the heat and everything else.

“They played St Johnstone a couple of times of years and last season got some good results in qualification, so this is going to be a hard game. We have prepared the right way and made sure we are at it.

“Our staff behind the scenes are brilliant. This might be a different type of game to what we are used to but, again, that is part of learning about European football.

“I don’t think it is possible for us to play our way for 90 minutes over here. The manager has said for us to be smart and to pick our times when to go 100 per cent, when there are other times we need to be compact as a team.”

One message drilled into Forrest and his team-mates is that Alashkert might not be a known name in European football but they won’t be a pushover.

He said: “The managers and coaches have been getting into us that they will be a good team. I think the boys know that as well. It’s not going to be an easy team. They are in their national stadium up against Celtic, which means every single one of them will be raring to go. We fully expect a tough game.”