Celtic favourite John Hartson has backed Kyogo Furuhashi to return to the starting lineup for the Scottish Cup semi-final clash against Rangers at Hampden Park.
The lowdown: Left out at Ibrox
The 27-year-old forward has been a huge absentee for the Bhoys, having missed 30 games this season with knee and more recently hamstring issues.
However, the Japanese ace made a welcome return to the fold in the second half of the 7-0 demolition of St Johnstone at Celtic Park last weekend. Kyogo was actually fit for the Old Firm win at Ibrox two weeks ago, but was left out as the manager did not feel he was needed.
Now, as another Old Firm showdown looms large, the Japan international could be back in contention to be named amongst Ange Postecoglou’s starting XI from the outset.
The latest: Hartson calls for Kyogo
The former Wales and 50-goal Hoops frontman said: “The back four will stay the same and I think the midfield will remain the same.
“The only one for me will be O’Riley or Hatate. Then it’ll be Maeda, Jota, and if Giakoumakis isn’t fit, then I see Kyogo starting.
“Why wouldn’t he start him? I think he’ll be dying to get back on the scoresheet.
“He’s such an enthusiastic and quality player. What an impact he made before he got injured.”
The verdict: Spot on
Having finally made a successful comeback there appears to be little reason not to include the 12-cap ace from the start, particularly should Giakoumakis miss out.
After almost four months out it’s unlikely Kyogo will be able to complete 90 minutes but it’s impossible to ignore the Japanese star’s quality.
Prior to coming off injured on Boxing Day, the versatile attacker had scored 16 times and provided five assists in 27 appearances across all competitions this season and will be a welcome addition back into Postecoglou’s squad for the semi-final and beyond.
In other news, pundit pinpoints key Celtic advantage in SPFL title race. Find out more here.
Click here to comment on this articleor
Give us feedback on your Football Transfer Tavern experience