There is a lot of chat and speculation right now about what might, or might not, happen with regards to the Old Firm game scheduled for Wednesday, February 2.
It’s been suggested Ange Postecoglou may ask for a postponement if three or more of his players are called up to play in World Cup qualifiers around the same time.
Tom Rogic will be with Australia, and it remains to be seen if Kyogo Furuhashi and any of Celtic’s three new Japanese signings are involved.
If Daizen Maeda, Yosuke Ideguchi or Reo Hatate are called up, then SPFL rules state that would allow the Hoops to ask for the game to be called off.
It is an option open to all clubs. If a request is made and the criteria is met, then the governing body’s chief executive, Neil Doncaster, will just have to abide by it.
With the match having already been postponed due to Covid forcing an early winter break, another cancellation could well cause some serious fixture congestion further down the line.
But that won’t have entered Celtic’s thinking.
Their view will be it’s all about the here and now, and they have a duty to their football club, and its supporters, to do what is required to give themselves the best chance of winning a game of football.
At the end of the day, this season’s Premiership title has a Champions League pot of gold, worth £35-million riding on it, and all clubs must do what they feel is best suited to them.
So why should Celtic not ask for a postponement if there is an option available for them to do so?
Sure, I get Rangers might not like it, and would prefer the game to be played. I absolutely get that standpoint.
Sky Sports might also not be overly happy at having to reschedule the match once again. That is also understandable.
For sure there won’t be any defeatist attitude circulating around Celtic Park.
If big Ange were to lose some players to international duty – and say it was just Kyogo and Rogic and they couldn’t request a postponement – the players he has available wouldn’t be fazed by playing Rangers at home without them.
The likes of Callum McGregor, Joe Hart, James Forrest, Nir Bitton, Jota and Cameron Carter-Vickers would all welcome the challenge.
But Ange needs to do what is right for the team and himself.
However, right now, this all speculation. There is nothing set in stone.
The Japanese World Cup squad has still to be announced, and Celtic’s three latest Japanese imports have not been involved with the international squad recently.
So we will just need to play a waiting game on this one.
But what isn’t in doubt is the quality of at least one of Celtic’s new Japanese Bhoys, Daizen Maeda.
I’ve watched some of his goals on YouTube, and I have to say I have been very impressed.
He strikes me as being a penalty-box predator, and looks to have all the attributes to be an excellent player for Celtic. Ange has worked with him, so knows his qualities. He is the type of player that could add something different and explosive to the Hoops’ title challenge.
It’s a market that worked very well for Celtic in the past with the success of Shunsuke Nakamura – albeit he arrived after three years with Reggina in Italy – and has done so again with Kyogo, who has been sensational.
There is clearly quality to be had in Japan, and Celtic are tapping into that right now.
Japanese players have a track record of being disciplined and dedicated professionals.
There is clear evidence of their willingness to move to a new country, adapt as quickly as possible off the field, and be dedicated to their jobs every day in training.
Takehiro Tomiyasu at Arsenal is another classic example of that. He has been very good for the Gunners in the right-back position.
So there may well be more players from Japan arriving in the UK.
The transfer value placed on players over there by their clubs appears to be very fair. They certainly can’t be accused of inflating fees.
For sure, Celtic’s three new signings will benefit – on and off the park – from Kyogo’s presence.
They haven’t touched Japan, certainly, but Rangers have also been busy in the transfer market.
They have sold Nathan Patterson to Everton for a considerable fee, and American James Sands has come in from MLS club, New York City, on an initial 18-month loan.
Giovanni van Bronckhorst will no doubt want to bring in one or two more before the end of the month.
The importance of this window to the Old Firm mustn’t be underestimated. There are tens and tens of millions of pounds riding on the deals being successful, or not.
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