Rumours have swept the internet that the club’s top scorer could struggle to shake off persistent hamstring problems that have troubled him since September - and were aggravated in the Boxing Day victory away to St Johnstone, forcing him off within 15 minutes of the 3-1 win. The Australian has acknowledged that there will be no “quick return” for the £4.6m summer signing from Vissel Kobe, but that on-line contentions the player’s fitness concerns could preclude him being seen again before May are well wide of the mark.
“He's not out for the rest of the season. I can assure you of that,” said the Celtic manager, even as he conceded the striker’s injury “is more significant than we were hoping it would be” and would sideline him for an impossible-to-determine time he was only able to put at “a number of weeks”.
“That is disappointing for us, and also Kyogo,” said the 56-year-old. “He loves playing for this club and he can't wait to be back out there. Kyogo is really disappointed and I feel for him because he put his body on the line for us. To be fair to him, he wasn't 100 per cent for the [League] Cup final [on December 19] but he scored two goals and helped us win it. That is testament to him as a player and a character. A lot of people would have taken a different option, so I am gutted for him.
"Kyogo did all he could for this football club and I am hoping that because he got the rewards for that cup final performance, it's enough to sustain him through this period out. He deserves to come back better than ever - and he will. Kyogo is that type. Whatever timeframe is put on his recovery, he will beat it. He is such a determined person and he loves playing for Celtic. The fact he can't go out and perform is hurting him but we will provide him with support. I am sure whatever recovery time is needed, he will do his best to be back as soon as possible."