Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou reveals why he has to handle Kyogo Furuhashi with care

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou has sought to give context to the surprise benching of Kyogo Furuhashi for the damaging scoreless draw at home to Livingston last weekend.

Celtic's Kyogo Furuhashi pictured during a the club's training session at Lennoxtown before they set off for Budapest, with Ange Postecoglou maintaining he has to ensure a player who hasn't had a break in almost a year isn't overwokred in seeking to justify starting him on the bench for the weekend draw at home to Livingston. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)
Celtic's Kyogo Furuhashi pictured during a the club's training session at Lennoxtown before they set off for Budapest, with Ange Postecoglou maintaining he has to ensure a player who hasn't had a break in almost a year isn't overwokred in seeking to justify starting him on the bench for the weekend draw at home to Livingston. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)

The 26-year-old is set to be restored as Celtic’s central striker for the Europa League encounter away to Ferencvaros following a fifth cinch Premiership game where points have been dropped without him occupying this role from kick-off. But Postecoglou has cited Furuhashi’s exertions in the February-to-December-staged Japanese League in highlighting the need to avoid burning out his 10-goal talisman, sidelined across September by a hamstring injury.

“Of course, you have to [protect players],” said the Celtic manager of a player who arrived in late July after a £4.6m move from Vissel Kobe. “We have already seen we lost Kyogo and Callum McGregor in the last period. [Giorgos] Giakoumakis was out, Mikey Johnston, James Forrest. We had no real options up there, now we have them back. I have to get them up and running, get them fit and give them as much game-time as possible, so we have options up there.

“We have to be really careful with Kyogo because he left Japan three-quarters of the way through a season. He’s come back, he’s had international football, he’s already had an injury. I know people want him out there all the time and he’s done fantastically well every time he’s played. [But] we have to be careful. It’s just starting November and he can’t be just playing every game right through to April and May and perform at the top level.”

A win at the Groupama Arena would secure Celtic European football after Christmas through guaranteeing them third in Group G that guarantees a knock-out tie in the Europa Conference League. The Celtic manager, though, doesn’t want to focus solely on this consolation prize, even if his team trail joint-leaders Bayer Leverkusen and Real Betis by four points in the pursuit of a top two place that would snare Europa League progress.

“I’m disappointed we didn’t make the Champions League,” the Celtic manager said. “I’ll be disappointed if we don’t get through the Europa League, I’ll be disappointed if we haven’t got European football in the new year because those are the kind of opportunities you want to develop and grow.”

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