The 24-year-old was a commanding presence in midfield, and exhibited craft and invention with his range of passes across his first outing since his early January arrival from J-League title winners Kawasaki Fontale. But Postecoglou believes – in an assessment he considers will be shared by the player himself – that he has made only a decent start, on an evening when fellow debutant Daizen Maeda opened his goal account inside four minutes. Postecoglou has no doubt Hatate, Maeda and fellow new Japanese signing Yosuke Ideguchi will also look to push themselves to the very limits in their new football homeland.
“Plenty more,” said the Celtic manager of what Hatate will bring to the table for his team. “When you get to know him he is a very, very determined young man. He shows signs of reaching the very top of the game. He will come off the pitch tonight knowing he did okay and performed at a level.
“But he will want more. That’s the kind of character and personality he is. He doesn’t just want to enjoy the ride, he has some sights and ambition to be the best player he can be and reach the top. You saw some of his quality tonight, but there is definitely more to come. From all the boys. It’s not easy to come halfway round the world and adjust to everything they’ve had to adapt to, but I was pretty confident they would with the environment we have at the club at the moment. It was a good start to their Celtic careers.”
And their potential – and the injury returns of Jota, James Forrest, Giorgos Giakmoukais – could take the slightest edge off the likelihood that Kyogo Furuhashi will be missing for a game-strewn next three weeks with the 16-goal forward’s hamstring issues having failed to respond to treatment across the winter break.
‘Don’t get me wrong, I would much rather that Kyogo was available and playing,” he Celtic manager. “He has been outstanding, he has been a star and I would much rather have him in the team. But the whole idea going into the January window was we needed a stronger squad.
"I thought at the back end of the first half of the season we did really well but we were running on fumes. There were a lot of players we kept putting out there who were just not 100%. We kind of got ourselves through that, but we couldn’t do that again. Hopefully getting the new guys in and also getting guys back from injury will enable us now to rotate the squad and that is going to be important to us.’