Celtic have been handed a potential Old Firm boost with the Japan manager hinting he won’t call up Kyogo Furuhashi for upcoming World Qualifiers.
Japan are due to play China on January 27 and Saudi Arabia on February 1, 24 hours before Celtic play city rivals Rangers in a game that could be vital in the Premiership title-race.
But manager Moriyasu Hajikazu told local press that the Celtic forward will be unavailable for selection due to a hamstring injury picked up before the winter break.
Hajikazu said he will have a “difficult” job to put a squad together with “several players unavailable through injury” for the vital World Cup qualifiers that could go a long way to deciding if Japan will be in Qatar at the end of the year, before naming Kyogo, who has 16 goals for the Hoops since signing in the summer, Sampdoria defender Maya Yoshida and Sei Muroya, who plays for German side Hannover, as three players they will be without.
That means, if he is fit to play, the 26-year-old will be available for the midweek Old Firm clash at Celtic Park as well as games against Hearts and Dundee United.
New signings Reo Hatate and Daizen Maeda could be potential replacements for the missing Japan stars but are not believed to be in Hajikazu’s plans for a call up at this time.
Ange Potecoglou could also be without countryman Tom Rogic with Australia also playing in World Cup qualifiers during the same period.
Meanwhile the Celtic manager will assess Kyogo and winger Jota ahead of their game against Hibernian on Monday night.
The Portuguese attacker has resumed training after recovering from a hamstring problem.