Celtic's Jota out for Hibs cup final and Rangers clash but reinforcements from Far East look imminent - 'I'd be a fool not to look there'

Ange Posticoglou has revealed he is well down the line to recruiting potential reinforcements after appearing to concede on loan Benfica winger Jota will miss both the Premier Sports Final v Hibs and next month’s Old Firm derby.

Ange Postecoglou salutes the Celtic fans after the 3-0 win at Dundee United (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
Ange Postecoglou salutes the Celtic fans after the 3-0 win at Dundee United (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

The Celtic manager reported the on-loan Benfica winger will be absent “for a few weeks” with a hamstring injury sustained in Thursday’s win over Hearts. Jota has been confirmed as by far the most serious of the trio of players forced off due to injury in that game.

Stephen Welsh, Anthony Ralston joined Jota on the sidelines as Celtic maintained the pressure on Rangers with a 3-0 win against Dundee United at Tannadice.

“Out of the three of them he was the most significant injury,” Posticoglou said, with reference to Jota. “It’s a blow because, apart from the team aspect, he was enjoying his football and wanted to kick on. He’ll work hard in rehab and we’ll try to get him back as soon as we can.”

Posticoglou is keen to continue using his knowledge of the Far East market to Celtic’s advantage. Striker Daizen Maeda, from Postecoglou's former club Yokohama F Marinos, versatile Reo Hatate from Kawasaki Frontale and former Leeds United midfielder Yosuke Ideguchi from Gamba Osaka have all been linked with the club over the weekend.

The manager confirmed he is in constant dialogue with Parkhead chief executive Michael Nicholson with the aim of hitting the ground running following the winter break.

“Myself, Michael, all the key people at the football club, we’re working really hard,” he said. “We want to be well organised and get the right players in. I know what we need in terms of making our squad a bit more well-rounded and robust for a challenging second half of the year.

“We’ll just keep working away,” he added. “No deals are done yet, nothing’s been signed.

“I know people get excited about names and I’ve probably been linked with the whole of the J-League. There’s also the Korean league that is decent, if you want to go fishing there. There will be plenty of names.

“From my perspective, we know what we need – and I’m fairly confident we‘ll get them in and get them in early.”

Celtic fans will be happy if he can identify someone as talented as Kyogo Furuhashi, who signed from J-League club Vissel Kobe. The striker has already scored 14 times since his summer arrival although he failed to net against United. Posticoglou did not deny that he would be looking to the Far East market again.

“I don’t want to say that! Because everyone will go there and start looking,” he said. “I’m obviously at an advantage because I worked there. It would be silly of me not to use the experience I have and the knowledge I have.

“That’s why we got Kyogo here. I was 100 per cent certain he would do well, especially with the way we play. And it’s not just Kyogo. If you look at all the big leagues around the world, you’ll see Asian players.

“Not just from Japan but from Korea, from Australia, from Iran. There are some very good footballers on that side of the world. But if people don’t want to look there, I’m happy to be the only one.”

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