The technical director of Japan’s international side, Yasuharu Sorimach, has pleaded with his own government to allow their overseas-based stars, like Celtic striker Kyogo Furuhashi, to play in their World Cup qualifiers.
And if he gets his wish, it will end any hopes the Hoops have of playing Kyogo in the rescheduled Old Firm showdown.
Celtic will face Rangers at Parkhead on February 2. However, Japan are playing two crucial Qatar 2022 qualifiers against China, on January 27, and Saudi Arabia five days later, with their qualifying hopes hanging in the balance.
They have already announced they will use domestic players only for a friendly against Uzbekistan on January 21 as part of a training camp next month.
But they are desperate for their foreign-based stars such as Kyogo to play in their two vital World Cup ties.
Currently, Japan have a ban in place on entry to the country for all foreigners, and that is set to remain in place until the start of next month – at least.
But Sorimach will present a special case to their government to exempt their squad members based outside the country from being part of the normal restrictions.
He said: “The Japanese government should know the significance of our participation in the World Cup in Qatar.
“I believe we will negotiate various conditions for the games against China and Saudi Arabia. It is imperative we have our best squad for the game.
“At the moment, I am praying, and keeping an hourly watch on the Omicron trends.”
Celtic have also been strongly linked with Kyogo’s Japanese international team-mates, Reo Hatate and Daizen Maeda, and they would both be in the same situation as Kyogo.
Hoops midfielder, Tom Rogic, also looks like being out of the Old Firm showdown.
Manager Ange Postecoglou expects to be without Aussie Rogic, as his country face Vietnam in Melbourne on January 27, and are away to Oman five days later, in crucial World Cup qualifiers.
Oz boss Graham Arnold has underlined just how important he regards Rogic for his Socceroos squad, after he previously missed important qualifiers.
He said: “You’re always going to miss a player of Tommy’s quality, he’s an amazing talent. To have him available again will be a big boost.”
Meanwhile, Rangers were handed a boost with the news that defender Calvin Bassey has been left out of Nigeria’s squad for the Africa Cup of Nations.
Club team-mates Joe Aribo and Leon Balogun were included in the final 28-man squad selected by interim manager Augustine Eguavoen.
There was a possibility that Rangers could ask for games to be postponed if three players were called up for international duty.
That could still be an option if Kemar Roofe is selected by Jamaica to take part in World Cup qualifiers on January 28, January 30 and February 3.
As things stand, the Ibrox men could be without Aribo and Balogun from January 18 when they play Aberdeen, up to their February 6 match against Hearts.
That spell of games, should Nigeria progress, could include the rearranged Celtic clash.
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