Ange Postecoglou delivers verdict on Kobayashi and gives Starfelt injury update after HT Celtic sub

By John McGinley

March 11, 2023

Ange Postecoglou doesn’t believe the injury sustained by Celtic defender Carl Starfelt today is significant, revealing it was an issue flagged in the warm-up to kick-off against Hearts.

Starfelt was named in the starting eleven alongside goalscorer Cameron Carter-Vickers for the 3-0 victory but had to be subbed off at half-time. He was replaced by January signing Yuki Kobayashi, who showed up well to deny the home side any chance of a second-half comeback.

Postecoglou is pleased with the Japanese 22-year-old and suggested we shouldn’t be waiting too long on a Starfelt return to action.

Photo by Richard Callis/MB Media/Getty Images

Postecoglou discusses Starfelt injury and Kobayashi after Celtic win

He said in a post-match media conference [Celtic Way]: “Starfelt felt the niggle in his hip flexor in the warm-up, actually. He kind of flagged that really early on in the game. We got him through to half-time, but you could see he wasn’t moving well. In the first half he wasn’t his normal self, so we made the change but I don’t think it’s significant.

“It was good to get Yuki some game time. You can see his quality and again he’s only a young man and I thought he did well when he came on. He’s a very, very good footballer. You can see that he’s so calm on the ball. Having the left-sided centre-back is such an asset.

“He’s only 22 and as a defender, he’s still got a lot to learn, but again, he works hard every day. He works hard. Fortunately, we have got John Kennedy in the building and he’s an outstanding centre-back. Yuki does a lot of work with John every day just to be ready for his opportunity. He’s definitely one who we think can be a strong contributor between now and the end of the year.”

Postecoglou will be hoping that Starfelt’s hip issue clears up in time for next weekend’s match against Hibernian, but if it doesn’t, Kobayashi has shown himself to be a capable performer early on in his Bhoys career.

He’s only made three appearances in total, also starting matches against St Mirren and Greenock Morton but looks ready to get minutes in the first team.

The Swede will likely remain the prime pick if fit between now and the end of the season – his partnership with Carter-Vickers is imperious. However, it sounds as if the manager has big plans for Kobayashi and it’ll be interesting to see if he can make a push for a regular starting spot as a left-sided defender next season.

In other news, BBC Scotland release statement on Celtic Sportscene highlights; now impacted by ongoing chaos