Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers has shared some great news about Reo Hatate.
The Japanese midfielder — arguably our most talented player — has endured a stop-start beginning to the season. Hatate began the competitive action out of Rodgers‘ preferred line-up and was injured after coming on as a half-time substitute at Aberdeen.
He hasn’t been seen in action since that game on August 13, suffering from a calf complaint. Celtic have played three games in his absence — winning one, drawing one and losing the other.
However, it now seems like his return to action is imminent after his manager updated supporters ahead of this weekend’s clash with Dundee.
“Reo Hatate is now back training with the squad which is great news,” Rodgers revealed in an exclusive Celtic TV interview.
“His energy has been really good. He’s worked really hard since he picked up that injury at Aberdeen. I’m really pleased he’s back. He’s a top midfield player and his mind is really focussed now on playing in the team and doing very well.”
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There are a couple of things to take away from Rodgers’ words, and plenty of good news that extends beyond the injury update itself.
Hatate is back, and that is a huge boost to a Celtic midfield that has looked a little flat in some recent matches.
You would hope that he will be fit to start Tuesday’s Champions League opener against Feyenoord. But if not, he will certainly be up and running for the Lazio home clash on October 4.
Rodgers’ latter comment about the Japanese star being “really focussed now” is also a hugely positive one. Reading between the lines, and some Rodgers comments from early August, it does seem like Hatate was at least thinking about the prospect of leaving Celtic this summer.
With the window now closed and the Champions League soon to arrive, it seems like he has now got his eyes on the prize as far as Celtic are concerned. There should be no more barriers or distractions for him to contend with.
Hatate is focused and Rodgers is happy about that. We should be too.