Kyogo Furuhashi Celtic injury return commitment swerved by Ange Postecoglou ahead of Rangers ‘final decision’

Ange Postecoglou will keep Rangers guessing over whether Kyogo Furuhashi will make a stunning Old Firm comeback until 75 minutes before kick off.

The Celtic boss won’t name his team until the last possible moment but admitted his Japanese talisman is ready to return after being out with a hamstring injury since Boxing Day.

Furuhashi made a massive impact on the Scottish game scoring 16 goals in 26 games – including the double that won the Premier Sports Cup – after arriving from the J-League and his recovery for the run-in to the season is a massive boost for Celtic as they chase a Treble in Postecoglou’s first season.

A win at Ibrox will stretch their lead to six points with six games to go and the Australian will spend today pondering whether to throw Kyogo straight back in, or stick with the free-scoring Giorgios Giakoumakis.

He said: “Kyogo has trained and has had this week of being integrated with the team which he’s pretty happy about.

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“With him, it’s just a matter of seeing how he responds to training and I’ll make a decision on his involvement for the weekend. We still have training tomorrow but he’s with the first team now and it’s just a matter of picking the right time.

‘Maybe this weekend isn’t the right time for him. I haven’t made that decision yet.

‘But he’s definitely training and is available. So that’s the first bit. Now we’ve got to see how he copes with our training on a daily basis.

‘But he’s been working awfully hard in rehab, he’s pushed himself to the limits to be ready as quickly as he can. It’s great for us that he’ll be available for the run in.

“The only one that’s definitely ruled out is James Forrest who still had a bit of a niggle so Sunday comes maybe too quickly for him. But everyone else is available.”

Asked if Kyogo and Giakoumakis could form a partnership, or if it would be one or the other, Postecoglou straight-batted an answer, saying: “I don’t think in those terms or in hypotheticals.

“I have the reality to think about without going into the hypotheticals of whether Kyogo and Giakoumakis can play because then I’m discounting Abada, I’m discounting Maeda, I’m discounting Forrest.

“What’s key for me is that we’ve got some good strong attacking options and I want them all fit and fine for the last part of the season. If they are all available, I’m sure they’ll all contribute in some way.

“The group’s in a good space. This is probably the strongest group of players we’ve had since the beginning of the year in terms of where they are and in terms of their fitness and their form.

“We are in a much better space in terms of preparing but the challenge still remains the same. It’s going to be a difficult game and a difficult venue.

“We’re going to have to be at our best to be successful.”

And he shrugged off any suggestion that being favorites for the title has heaped additional pressure on his shoulders, saying: “How much pressure do you think I had when I was announced as manager of Celtic at the beginning of the year!

Is there more pressure? I’m sure I’ll find out. It’s all good. The key to all that is you embrace it.

“This is a position we wanted to be in. I’d hate to be in a position where we were playing a big game like this and there was no consequence to it because we were too far behind or it had no meaning.

“That’s the pressure because that’s not the position I want this football club to be in.

“Where we are right now is where I want us to be so that’s not pressure, that’s me hoping to be in this situation.

“If you hope to be in a certain situation you can’t be not feeling good about it so I’m looking forward to the next period of games.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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