Sutton names Reo Hatate as ‘The man Rangers fear the most’

Chris Sutton has revealed on the Daily Record Celtic podcast that the Hoops will be praying that Reo Hatate is fight for Saturday lunchtime’s Scottish Premiership showdown with theRangers at Celtic Park. The Bhoys have the opportunity to stretch their lead at the summit of Scottish football and create a twelve-point gal between themselves and their closest rivals to boot.

Celtic v Hibernian – cinch Premiership – Celtic Park Celtic s Leo Hatate centre leaves the pitch injured during the cinch Premiership match at Celtic Park, Glasgow. Picture date: Saturday March 18, 2023. Photo Steve Welsh

It’s a game that the supporters are really looking forward to and hopefully do some psychological damage to Mick Beale and his men, the Ibrox fanbase and board of directors. If they were to be on the receiving end of another 3 or 4-0 battering it could see an implosion, the likes of which has been spoken about in various quarters recently. They’ve chatted non-stop garbage and guff about our manager and team and they deserve a right good pasting after a close 2-1 scoreline when we beat them to the League Cup back in February.

There’s been a few injuries Ange and the medical team at Lennoxtown have had to contend with since the international break and many are hoping that Reo Hatate in particular is declared fit and ready for action this coming Saturday at Paradise. Sutton reckons it would be a significant boost if the Japanese midfielder made it, and likewise, a terrible blow if he didn’t.

He said: “I don’t know how fit they are, that’s the biggest issue. Mooy had a bit of a slow start but he’s been a really important signing for Ange Postecoglou.

“The manager keeps his cards close to chest when it comes to injuries so you never really know. In terms of Hatate, I think he’s been Celtic’s most important player this season. When he is in the side, Celtic seem a lot quicker moving through the midfield. McGregor is so important at starting the moves but Hatate is really integral. At this moment in time, Hatate is my player of the year in Scotland.

“I know Kyogo has scored the goals and Cameron Carter-Vickers has been an absolute rock. But Hatate is the key man. He’s also the man (the)Rangers fear most – I really believe that. It would be a relief to the Rangers team if he doesn’t make it.”

The man who used to terrorise Rangers defences for Celtic throughout his tenure in Glasgow’s East End reckoned Hatate shouldn’t be risked if he is not 100% ready, despite the temptation that many amongst the support feel. He said: “If he’s not fully fit I wouldn’t risk him. Celtic can afford to lose three games and still win the league so there would be no point in risking further injury and missing more games. There’s also the Scottish Cup semi-final to think about.”

One man who could be included again is Matt O’Riley, who has been suffering from a lack of form and his confidence is visibly dented. But Sutton revealed he has no qualms about Matt’s ability to rise to the occasion come the weekend if Reo and Mooy aren’t available to the Celtic boss. “It’s a really important game for O’Riley. He probably hasn’t quite kicked on in recent months because of the form of Mooy. He made such a dramatic impact when he first came to the club but he’s one of those who would be going in with a real purpose and maybe a point to prove. Celtic will need a big performance from him.”

He also confirmed that he would feel far safer with Greg Taylor at left-back following his injury concern up in the Highlands on Sunday against Ross County: “It’s been difficult for Bernabei given Taylor’s performances”, Sutton said.

“He needs to do far better defensively, such as stopping crosses. His strike was brilliant at the weekend and his greatest strength is attacking. I don’t want to sound like called a dinosaur but full-backs have to defend and I’m not sure he’s good enough in one-v- one situations. By all accounts Taylor had a dead leg and he should be OK for the weekend and that will be important, because if you ask any Celtic fan, they’d want him in there against (the)Rangers.”

On the striker front, the big man insisted that Kyogo Furuhashi will still be the man charged with taking apart Mick Beale’s ropey defence, even though Hyeongyu Oh is doing his best currently to stake a claim in this Celtic starting XI.

He added: “You just need to look at the League Cup Final and the goalscorer that day. Rangers might not have liked the physical aspect of Giorgos Giakoumakis and then Oh, but the certainty didn’t like the goalscoring exploits of Kyogo. Giakoumakis caused Rangers a lot of problems with his physicality but you look at the problems Kyogo gave them with his movement in the cup final. He’s not one to get too much involved in the build-up play, but he causes so many problems with that movement and his goals.”

Paul Gillespie

About Author

I'm a Garngad Bhoy through and through. My first ever Celtic game was a friendly against Italian side Parma at Celtic Park, in 2002. Currently a student of English Literature and Education at the University of Strathclyde for my sins. Favourite game would be a toss up between beating Manchester United with that Naka freekick, or the game against the Oldco when Hesselink scored in the dying seconds. I'm still convinced Cal Mac is wasted playing that far back.

1 Comment

  1. John Fitzpatrick on

    Hi Paul

    Your assessment is spot on. I would start with Oh to tire them out with his physical presence then after they tire bring the wee Man on theRangers would shite themselves.