Potential of Postecoglou's Kyogo and Jota pairing suggests more Celtic consistency can come after international break
Ange Postecoglou can be thankful for small mercies. The Celtic manager, who leads his team in a cinch Premiership sixth-v-seventh placed match in Aberdeen this afternoon was finally able to pair Kyogo Furuhashi and Jota in the same team last week.
Inconsistent, and inexperienced, selection options have been symptomatic of Celtic’s season so far. Until now he has been unable to call upon both his brightest summer signings together. He hasn’t been able to field seasoned campaigners like James Forrest or Christopher Jullien and he never had the wealth of Scott Brown’s experience at his disposal.
Instead it has been the early flickerings of potential from Jota and Furuhashi who have kept Celtic going – though never at once. Now, with both available, signs of development and relationships are a window of what could come next, bolstered in future by returning experience further down the line.
“That was pleasing,” the Australian said in the wake of pairing both against Bayer Leverkusen. “When putting the team together you have pictures in your head of what it will look like when you get everyone up and running.
“I think Jota is improving with every game and really making a mark. Kyogo has made a massive impact too. Hopefully we can keep him on the park and developing that relationship because he and Jota can be a good combination.”
Combinations have been frequently changing, contributing in part to Celtic’s uncharacteristic position, shared by the similarly lowly Dons. With so much experience on the sidelines – including captain Callum McGregor recently– Celtic, players and Postecoglou have been getting used to new surroundings and circumstances for the first time with many seasoned campaigners unavailable.
“Chris [Jullien] has been working hard in rehab. We are hoping he will start to get involved in team training after the international break. He is a very important player to us.
“James is a bit different. He had a minor setback – a foot problem – and we just haven’t been able to get him up and running. He is a senior player I felt would be making a significant contribution. I guess we just have to be guided by him and how the injury heals.
“The pleasing thing is that Cal and Kyogo came through Thursday because they make a big difference.”
Seeing McGregor line up against Brown will be a curious in itself, with both Celtic and Aberdeen in equally unfamiliar territory, but Postecoglou believes both can rise from their current positions.
“Obviously it’s a significant game for Scott. He had a fantastic career here and is a legend of the club. I’m sure when the fixtures came out this was one he circled.
“For us we are just hugely disappointed by Thursday night and our focus is to make sure there is a reaction.
“The table is still pretty tight. It’s only seven games in and there is an opportunity for Aberdeen to get some results and climb.
“We’re certainly not thinking we have lost touch with anyone yet. The important thing now is a run of results.
“We want to go into the international break with a win and hopefully after that we will be close to a full complement of players and to give us the opportunity to follow that result with some consistency."