The Celtic trend Ange Postecoglou can now finally drop from tomorrow night

By David Walton

January 16, 2022

You couldn’t help but feel for Ange Postecoglou during the first half of the season as the Celtic boss was constantly left putting out fires.

Whether it was having no available strikers or getting through the early stages of the season without any reliable centre-backs. We had 7 first-team players who missed our final match of 2021 away to St Johnstone. But that summed up the campaign Ange was having injury-wise.

Due to those problems, particularly in the centre-forward position, Ange was left rushing Kyogo back when he wasn’t fully fit. This happened on several occasions. Twice in December did he have to come off injured against Real Betis and St Johnstone in matches that he clearly wasn’t ready to start.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Ange will feel like he had no choice. If he wants to win games then he needed a striker on the pitch. He couldn’t rely on Giorgos Giakoumakis or Albian Ajeti as they were also both sidelined. But it still led to a few setbacks for Kyogo and, in truth, we’re very fortunate it didn’t lead to a major injury.

Thankfully, Celtic have since gone on a firm recruitment drive in January. Daizen Maeda, Reo Hatate, and Yosuke Ideguchi have all arrived from the J-League. They add key strength to the centre-forward, left-wing, attacking-midfield, and defensive-midfield positions.

In addition to that, the manager has the likes of Giorgos Giakoumakis back in contention and ready to feature. Christopher Jullien is another who looks close to a return whilst Karamoko Dembele is back in training. Joe Hart was also back in training this week, with James Forrest set to add more depth as he steps up his progress.

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No need for Kyogo or Jota to be rushed into action tomorrow

During the first half of the campaign with our squad depth issues, Ange likely would’ve rushed Kyogo or Jota back if they were in the situation they’re currently in. It’s said that both have a chance of featuring tomorrow [Football Scotland].

However, look at the alternatives we now have. Maeda, for example, can feature on the left side as he did regularly for Yokohama Marinos. Giakoumakis, meanwhile, will be absolutely champing at the bit to get himself on the pitch and prove himself to the Celtic supporters. A goal or 2 against Hibs would certainly set him off in the right direction.

There’s absolutely no reason for either Kyogo or Jota to be thrown in if there’s a risk to their long-term fitness. Not with Hearts at Tynecastle coming up and Rangers in the Glasgow derby next month. Sure, Kyogo could head off with Japan on international duty and miss those games regardless, but that hasn’t been confirmed as of yet.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Of course, if there are obscene injury problems affecting the club in the second half of the season then fair enough, you could understand a bit of urgency to get players back. But at the moment? The Celtic squad is in extremely strong shape.

Celtic can deal with Hibs with the likes of Maeda and Giakoumakis on the pitch. You would still hope we would win the game even if Ange went for the likes of Mikey Johnston and Ajeti respectively. But if Jota and Kyogo ideally need a bit more time, there’s no reason not to give them it.

How Kyogo managed to shrug off his injury knocks in the first half of the campaign was incredible. But we can’t keep asking him to do it. Nor anyone for that matter. Given the strength in depth now available, Ange needs to make sure he drops that particular trend.

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