Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou has his say on Kyogo and Barkas following Perth win

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou maintained no special measures will be taken with Kyogo Furuhasi over the three-week winter shutdown to ensure the Japanese striker can enjoy a free run of games across the second half of the season.

Celtic's Kyogo Furuhashi  shows his exasperation over the problem that forced off early into his team's 3-1 win away to St Johnstone. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
Celtic's Kyogo Furuhashi shows his exasperation over the problem that forced off early into his team's 3-1 win away to St Johnstone. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

The 26-year-old was forced off with a tightness in the hamstring area only 15 minutes into Celtic’s 3-1 victory away to St Johnstone in only his second start in the club’s past six outings. The Celtic manager conceded the win had been achieved amid “challenges” and “a chaotic few days” resulting from a cluster of covid cases at the club. No specifics were given on that, but his team was shorn of captain Callum McGregor, Scott Bain, Anthony Ralston, Mikey Johnston, players not listed among an injury list comprising such as Joe Hart, David Turnbull, Jota, James Forrest, Albian Ajeti and Giorgos Giakoumakis.

The Celtic manager didn’t, though, bite on the need to wrap top scorer Furuahshi “in cotton wool” ahead of the season resuming with the cinch Premiership hosting of Hibs on January 17. We will just do as normal mate. He’s had 12 months of football,” the 56-year-old said of the £4.6m summer signing from Vissel Kobe. “He didn’t start in June or July, he started January this year. So there was always going to be a time when we needed to give him a break.”

Postecoglou had praise for both his senior picks and his Israeli scoring duo Liel Abada - who claimed a double in his latest stint as a stand-in striker to move to 10 for the season - and Nir Bitton, netting as deputising captain on an afternoon that brought a first senior appearance for 18-year-old Joey Dawson as a replacement for Furuhashi. And he also commended the consistently maligned Vasilis Barkas, the goalkeeping outcast who was assured in a first senior start since September.

“Liel has been great,” the Celtic manager said. “We have asked him to do different jobs at different times this year. It’s been quite challenging but he’s been super and it was great for him to get the goals. Today, we really needed our experienced players to stand up. Bitton, Rogic and [James] McCarthy I thought were excellent. [Josip] Juranovic as well. On a day like today when you know it’s going to be challenging for a number of reasons, the experienced players have to lead the way, and I thought they did.

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[When it came to Barkas] I said a couple of weeks ago that’s why these guys train had every day – their opportunities will come. You don’t know when it is going to come, at what point, but they have got to be ready, for themselves as much as anything else. It was great for him today to get an opportunity. I thought he did really well for us. He came out for a couple of crosses. He didn’t have an awful lot to do apart from that, but that is why they train hard every day, so they are ready for an opportunity.”

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