Reo Hatate's Celtic return outlined as hope grows over involvement for Rangers clash - plus update on key duo

Celtic’s key Japanese midfielder could be back after the international break

Brendan Rodgers has revealed he expects to have Reo Hatate back in a Celtic shirt before the end of the month.

The midfielder has endured an injury-riddled season that has seen him feature only sparingly for the Parkhead club. A calf injury sustained while at the Asian Cup representing Japan has kept him sidelined since the end of January but Rodgers believes Hatate is now coming to the end of his rehab period.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

This weekend’s home clash with St Johnstone will come too soon but the manager is confident that Hatate will be available for selection immediately after the international break when Celtic travel to Livingston. And, should the playmaker come through that one unscathed, he would then also be available for the crucial derby with Rangers the following weekend.

Celtic's Reo Hatate has been missing for weeks due to a calf problem.Celtic's Reo Hatate has been missing for weeks due to a calf problem.
Celtic's Reo Hatate has been missing for weeks due to a calf problem.

Rodgers said: “Reo is progressing well. He’s out on the pitch doing his work so we’re hoping that after the international break he’ll be with the squad. It’s looking likely for the Livingston game [on March 31]. Just having the availability of that level of player, the dynamism he has, clearly it’s something that we’ve missed. So to have him back will be great.”

Rodgers is also confident that captain Callum McGregor will also be available for that fixture at the Tony Macaroni Arena, while he was also hopeful that Cameron Carter-Vickers’ latest injury wouldn’t be a serious one either. That could see Celtic back to close to full strength for both the league run-in and their Scottish Cup commitments.

Rodgers added: “I just think the football looks different [with the key players available]. I’ve said it all season. You saw the Dundee game and the influence of Cameron Carter-Vickers and Callum McGregor. These are huge players for us. They get us through the pitch, and they squeeze the pitch. There’s never a drama when they are there. Everything is compact and tight. It will be great. Hopefully, fingers crossed, we can get them all back. We’ve got a big game now this week that we need to get ready for. We’ll look to win that and then hopefully we'll have a really exciting time after the break.”