Kyogo is returning to a Celtic team unrecognisable from the one he left
When Celtic’s star man Kyogo Furuhashi limped off after 15 minutes against St. Johnstone on Boxing Day, he was replaced by Joey Dawson.
The young Englishman coped admirably after being thrust into the limelight.
But the fact he was the second choice Celtic forward spoke volumes for where we were at as a team.
Three months down the line and, as Kyogo closes in on a return, Dawson is arguably fifth or sixth choice striker at the club.
Kyogo’s absence has paved the way for Giorgos Giakoumakis to become our latest hero, while Daizen Maeda has also dazzled fans with his application and goalscoring exploits.
In total, the pair have notched 16 goals since Kyogo has been away.
That’s the same number the former Vissel Kobe man has this campaign.
Kyogo will have his work cut out getting back in Celtic team
Kyogo is still the obvious candidate for Player of the Year in this writer’s eyes – and a strong end to the season would make it hard to go against him.
But Celtic have got on just fine without him since the turn of the year. And that would’ve been unthinkable not so long ago.
Celtic struggled badly in the early part of the season when both Kyogo and Callum McGregor were missing.
Now, the squad is much better set up to deal with key absences.
Kyogo will soon get the chance to link up with Reo Hatate, Matt O’Riley and Daizen Maeda for the first time, while relationships with Tom Rogic, Jota and Liel Abada can be rekindled.
He no longer needs to be rushed back. In fact, there’s an argument that he shouldn’t start at Ibrox even if fully fit.
But it feels like there’s something in the air at Lennoxtown, and we may be about to see the second coming of Kyogo.