The Quiet Man of Celtic Park there is little of the fighter in James Forrest. His stats, however, suggest he is more than capable of packing a punch.

His midweek goal against St Johnstone took his tally for the season to 15 goals, offering ample evidence he will surpass last term’s haul of 17 which helped win Forrest the SPFL Player of the Year award. Having started 37 games for Celtic this term, Forrest has been involved in 33 goals. If Celtic are successful this season in winning a record-equalling ninth successive title the winger will be the only player to have scored in all 9 of those campaigns.

It is a catalogue of acclaim that ought to floor his detractors.

Instead, however, the winger is perennially having to put his guard up when things do not go well for Celtic. He was the target of significant ire from the Parkhead support after the festive defeat to Rangers at Celtic Park and any lull in form tends to draw immediate flak.

If Lennon’s terse ‘f**k off’ to Mikey Johnstone that was caught on camera this week suggests for all his recent calm demeanour he is not averse to a stinging rebuke, it’s unlikely that Forrest has felt the full force too often.

“Jamesy is a big game player,” said Lennon, who oversaw his journey from Celtic academy to first-team. “Alright, he didn’t have one of his better games [against Rangers] but we make too big an issue of it at times, we really do.

“He’d played a lot of games. That absolutely has to take its toll. Look at his record in Rangers games, I’d say it was pretty good. The amount of goals, assists he’s had, the wins.

“I’m sorry but that [criticism] is really unfair on a player that has been absolutely unbelievably good for this club for such a long time. He’s just a quiet kid. That’s why he’s had such a successful career. There’s been no controversy surrounding him, there’s been no social media around him.

”People have short memories. he's entitled to a bad couple of days now and again but I don't think he gets cut the same slack as others do sometimes.

“He just comes in, plays his football, does his training and goes home again. What’s wrong with that? He’s a manager’s dream. I thought he was great the other night. I thought he was dynamic, scored a great goal, assist for the first goal was great, his work-rate was great.

“And I felt that he played with real freedom. That’s the James Forrest that I love. He’s such an important player. That’s 15 for the season which is a great return, I want him to get to at least 20 by the end of the season.

“He’s been outstanding. Sometimes when he doesn’t play as well as that people think, awwww, but he just sets a really high standard.

“People have to remember he’s 28, but he's achieved so much. I always think homegrown players get it a little bit more, for some reason. I just think he's a magnificent footballer and a magnificent kid. I've got a great relationship with him and long may it continue.

“I enquired about him [when I was at Bolton] but no chance. The club weren't interested in letting him go. And he's been here 10-11 years as well and hasn't left.”

Lennon’s Celtic are the only club with a goal difference of 50 in any top flight team in Europe to underline the manner in which they have focused on attack this term. Celtic have failed to score in just two league games this season – Livingston and Rangers – and a recent experiment with a back three and a front two appears to consolidate Lennon’s intent on forward play.

It has also facilitated a return to the team for Leigh Griffiths as Ryan Christie served his two-game suspension. It remains to be seen if it is a system that Lennon persists with but the portents are there that it would a solid return in terms of goals while getting as many creative players on the pitch as possible.

“I felt the two [Griffiths and Odsonne Edourad] dovetailed quite well at times on Wednesday and looked really dangerous. But that’s their football intelligence, it’s not exactly something that you can practice at times. They play on split second decisions at times and the link-up play for the first goal was superb.

“They are just good players and then you’ve Patryk Klimala as well who can definitely run behind as well. When he hits his bootstraps he’s got plenty of pace. You can play Christie, even in Lazio we played Mohamed Elyounoussi just around Odsonne as well.

“The formation still gives you a bit of width, the three in midfield has been absolutely superb with Callum McGregor and Scott Brown and whoever is playing with them. At the minute it is Olivier Ntcham and he is in great form. I’m not saying the formation is set in stone but it’s one that we like.

“Sometimes a lone striker is a very difficult role to play and with the wingers being injured we weren’t getting enough support for Odsonne at times. You don’t want to leave him isolated either because it then becomes a really hard task to bring other people into the game.”

Celtic play Hamilton this afternoon at lunchtime with Lennon keen to continue the momentum. And he has acknowledged that regardless of the pressure within games the experience within the current Celtic squad has ensured that there is sufficient confidence to ride it out.

“This is what our fans need to understand at times, sometimes teams will get in, sometimes teams will score a goal - it's about the reaction and every time we’ve conceded this season, our reaction has been good,” he said.

“They don't panic, there's no anxiety, they just get on with it. We don't throw anyone under a bus, we stay together, we get back in the game and go and win it.”