Reo Hatate's comments and the open door for Ange Postecoglou to make midfield changes

By Lewis Laird

April 20, 2022

The Celtic midfield three has been a shifting unit in the team for Hoops boss Ange Postecoglou to work with throughout the 2021/22 campaign.

Nir Bitton, Matt O’Riley, and David Turnbull have all had spells in the starting line-up during the physically demanding season in one of the most key areas of Ange’s side. At this point in time, however, the starting trio appears to be Callum McGregor, Reo Hatate and Tom Rogic.

One of the players who has felt the effects of that most since his arrival in January is Hatate. The Japanese midfielder admitted earlier today that he is struggling with the physical and mental demands of Scottish football just off the back of an entire season in Japan.

With these comments and Hatate’s efforts on Sunday, it’s possible that Ange Postecoglou will look to tag in one of the other midfield options as a consistent starter in the final five games of the season.

Photo by Ralf Treese/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Does this open the door for David Turnbull?

At this stage, the most obvious replacement for Hatate would likely be Matt O’Riley, who has impressed since arriving during the same January window from English League One side MK Dons.

However, after Tom Rogic’s struggles at Hampden at the weekend, there is a chance O’Riley will go into the side in place of the Aussie midfielder, opening up the possibility of David Turnbull stepping in for Hatate.

It is easy to forget how much of a key player Turnbull was for Postecoglou in the first half of the campaign before picking up a long-term injury in the Premier Sports cup final against Hibs, which was his last start.

He managed to bag himself nine goals and seven assists in that time.

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Reo Hatate discusses Celtic fatigue as John Kennedy gets set to stick around
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Up until that game, he was the only player to have played in every competitive match under Postecoglou. So, we know the Bhoys boss is a fan. He could look to reintroduce the Scotland internationalist into his side as a regular for the final five fixtures of the season.

There is no doubt that Turnbull has the quality to do so, and he has shown that both this season and last. So, it will be interesting to see the involvement he is given during the crucial run-in.

Sunday’s teamsheet against Ross County is shaping up to be one of the most interesting of the entire season.

Ultimately, Postecoglou will be delighted to have the luxury of choice, which is not something he had when Turnbull regularly featured during the first half of the campaign.

In other news, The 3 most promising Celtic B youngsters on Ange Postecoglou’s radar this summer.