Kyogo Furuhashi Celtic boost for Rangers clash as Japan boss admits 'difficult' call-up decision

Japan manager Moriyasu Hajikazu has said he may not call upon Kyogo Furuhashi for the World Cup qualifiers at the end of this month with the Celtic forward suffering a recent hamstring injury.

The Celtic forward pulled up against St Johnstone on Boxing Day and has been regarded as a doubt for tomorrow’s cinch Premiership restart against Hibs.

And that uncertainty has contributed to the “difficult job” his national team manager has in compiling a squad for matches against China and Saudi Arabia – the latter coming 24 hours before the second Old Firm clash of the season.

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Doubt was already in place for foreign-based players’ participation in the games with current covid-19 protocols in place, but if omitted from this squad selection the 16-goal striker could be available to face Rangers in the rescheduled derby match on February 2 if he recovers in time.

Celtic's Kyogo Furuhashi is currently an injury doubt for Celtic, and Japan. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)

While potentially a boost for Celtic to have this season’s talisman available, international fixtures would also rule Tom Rogic out of the eagerly anticipated game should the midfielder be called into the Australia squad, while new signings Reo Hatate and Daizen Maeda could also be involved in Hajikazu’s national set-up and miss Dundee United on January 26, the Old Firm match and Motherwell away on February 6.

That three-player scenario would meet criteria for a match postponement request under SPFL rules but while Ange Postecoglou didn’t rule it out, he insists he won’t be worrying about it until they are called up: “At the moment, there’s no point even thinking about that. As it stands, none of the players have been selected, so until that happens….we’ll look at it then.”

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