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Football: Focus on the task in hand, says Celtic's Forrest

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Celtic winger James Forrest insists his team-mates can't afford to let their minds wander to next week's Champions League qualifier as they prepare to face Aberdeen at Pittodrie.

The Scotland international, who shone for his national side during their 3-2 defeat by England at Wembley on Wednesday, says it's vital the Hoops qualify for the lucrative group stages of Europe's elite competition.

Celtic will take on Aberdeen in Saturday's early kick-off before jetting off to Kazakhstan to face Shakhter Karagandy in the first leg of their play-off round tie.

Forrest - who has now racked up over 100 appearances for Celtic - is conscious of the number of points the Hoops dropped before and after European games last season as they secured a place in the last 16 in the Champions League.

And with the new-look Dons sitting second in the Scottish Premiership, Forrest - who has his eyes on securing a domestic treble - knows Celtic can't afford to let their concentration levels drop against a side expected to do well this season.

"They have signed a lot of good players and they will be definitely up there with a couple of other sides," the Celtic winger said.

"They have Niall McGinn and Gregg Wylde, so they have good players going forward. It will be a tough game up there.

"All the boys want to try to win the league, the two cups and reach the group stages.

"I think we can get the treble but it's vitally important we get into the Champions League and try to win the league title again."

Just goal difference is keeping Aberdeen off top spot as the Dons sit on maximum points so far under new manager Derek McInnes.

McInnes is looking to improve on last season's eighth place finish in the league and wins against Kilmarnock and Motherwell in their first two fixtures have seen the side justify their pre-season optimism.

The Dons manager knows his side will face a tougher test when Celtic visit Pittodrie on Saturday, though. McInnes has faith in his players but insists a defeat won't derail the Dons.

"I love working with the boys," McInnes said. "I trust them. I trust their workrate, I trust how strong they are, how fit they are and I trust that they'll go the full way.

"When you've got that trust as a manager it's brilliant to put your team out there regardless of the opposition.

"Regardless of who we're playing, whether it's a team in good form or in poor form, it's about us and what we do in the game

"For us it's about getting a reputation as a good side and a tough side to play against.

"I do believe that win, lose or draw the game it won't stop us from what we are trying to do."

Elsewhere, on Friday crisis club Hearts will continue their quest to pick up vital points to stave off relegation when they take on Partick Thistle at Firhill.

The Jambos, who sit bottom with minus 12 points after a deduction imposed for entering adminstration, will have been boosted by last weekend's derby win over Hibernian but Thistle have made an unbeaten start to the season.

On Saturday, top of the table Inverness Caledonian Thistle welcome last season's runners-up Motherwell to the Caledonian Stadium, Hibs will try and secure their first points of the season at home to Dundee United, St Johnstone welcome Ross County to McDiarmid Park while Kilmarnock travel to take on St Mirren.

Fixtures (1400 GMT unless otherwise stated) Friday Partick Thistle v Hearts (1845)

Saturday Aberdeen v Celtic (1130), Hibernian v Dundee United, Inverness CT v Motherwell, St Johnstone v Ross County, St Mirren v Kilmarnock

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130815/football-focus-the-task-hand-says-celtics-forrest