Ange Postecoglou explains why Celtic's Reo Hatate may be overlooked for Japan World Cup squad

Ange Postecoglou believes there is still more to come from Reo Hatate as the in-form midfielder prepares to learn his World Cup fate with Japan.

Hatate has scored twice this month, including a wonderfully improvised goal, which saw him switch the ball from his right foot to his left foot, against Motherwell in the Premier Sports Cup quarter-final win on Wednesday.

Now the 24-year-old is hoping such trickery has caught the eye of Japan manager Hajime Moriyasu, who names his 26-man squad for Qatar on 1 November.

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Hatate has three more games before then, including against Hearts at Tynecastle this weekend.

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou admits the World Cup may have come too soon for Japan midfielder Reo Hatate. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

He was called up for the two recent friendlies against the United States and Ecuador but didn't feature in either game. He has one cap to date.

Postecoglou fears the tournament might have come too soon for Hatate, who he hailed for settling into life in Scotland so quickly following his arrival in December.

“I knew what I was getting,” said the Celtic manager. “He’s a very talented footballer.

“I have tried to explain to people that, people look at his age, but although he’s 24, he’s only really three or four years in professional football and there is more to come from him. He is adapting really well to both life here and football here in Europe and Scotland, more specifically.”

Postecoglou is alert to the unenviable task facing Moriyasu when it comes to making his final selection for the World Cup. After all, he endured the same agonies as manager of Australia before the 2014 World Cup.

“It depends on what the national coach is looking for and what other players he has in that position,” he said.

“With the Japanese team traditionally, someone like Reo is still seen as a young player and, because of that, sometimes they take a little bit more time to integrate them.

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“Maybe it’ll be that this World Cup has come a little too early for him, but I don’t think it won’t stop his determination to try and get into it. And, if he doesn’t, I’m sure he will put his head down and make sure post-World Cup that he is a strong member of their national team.”



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