It’s been widely reported over the course of the international window that Celtic don’t have their injury worries to seek. As such, we’ll all be waiting with bated breath for Ange Postecoglou’s press conference later today to see who is and isn’t available for selection as domestic action returns for Celtic with a Sunday lunchtime trip to Dingwall to face Ross County
But, according to Derek McGregor at Scottish Sun it appears Reo Hatate’s hamstring injury picked up against Hibs will see him miss the trip to the Highlands but he may be fit in time for the Glasgow Derby the following weekend.
‘Reo Hatate is set to miss Celtic’s return to Premiership action at Dingwall on Sunday to ensure he’s 100-per-cent for the (Glasgow) derby which could effectively seal two-in-a-row,’ Derek McGregor reports.
‘But Greg Taylor, managing an Achilles issue which saw him miss Scotland duty, and Daizen Maeda, who chose to return early from being with the Japan squad, are expected to be available for the game against Ross County.
‘Liel Abada and Aaron Mooy have also had fitness concerns and boss Ange Postecoglou isn’t prepared to take any unnecessary chances with the showdown against (the)Rangers at Parkhead looming large on April 8.
‘Postecoglou was left concerned when Japanese midfield idol Hatate pulled up with a suspected hamstring strain after just 13 minutes of the 3-1 win over Hibs a fortnight ago. But it’s understood that it wasn’t a major problem and the two week international lay-off has greatly helped the hugely influential 25-year-old.’
Losing Mooy and Hatate at the same time from the Celtic midfield will be a loss, but Matt O’Riley and David Turnbull will be hoping this will present an opportunity for them to shine. Both players have bided their time in recent weeks and would be the obvious choices to fill the No8 positions should Hatate and Mooy fail to recover. However, opportunity may also now knock for January signing Tomoki Iwata.
The J-League’s MVP of last season has caught the eye in seven appearances for Celtic since signing from Ange Postecoglou’s former club Yokohama F Marinos, and it may be now will be the time Iwata comes to the fore.
If Hatate and/or Aaron Mooy have to vacate their starting spots there is scope for the Celtic boss to play Iwata in the deep lying playmaker role and push Callum McGregor into one of the No8 positions.
Such a move would add energy and recovery pace to the Celtic midfield, which may be lacking in a partnership between Turnbull and O’Reilly and Dingwall on Sunday seems the perfect time to experiment ahead of the Glasgow Derby next weekend.
We’ll know better this afternoon as to the extent of Celtic’s injury concerns, but the loss of some players simply affords and opportunity to others.
Turnbull and O’Reilly will both fancy their chances of grasping their opportunity should it arise, but Iwata must also be thinking a chance to make his mark could now be in the offing.