Ange Postecoglou has hit back at critics who have suggested Celtic striker Kyogo Furuhashi goes down too easily.
The Japan international’s whirlwind start to his Hoops career since arriving from Vissel Kobe has brought 14 goals amid a series of terrific performances, but has also brought criticism about some other parts of his game.
Former Rangers midfielder Alex Rae claimed Furuhashi’s reaction to a slap from Livingston defender Ayo Obileye which earned the Hoops a late penalty was embarrassing, while former Premier League referee Keith Hackett claimed the Celtic striker should be fined by the Scottish FA for “exaggerating”.
Ahead of the Europa League dead rubber against Real Betis at Parkhead on Thursday night, the Hoops boss jumped to the defence of Furuhashi when asked about a possible developing narrative of the player being a diver.
“Who are these brave people, these warriors, who are out there, who are accusing people?” said Postecoglou, who confirmed injured Portuguese forward Jota will miss the Premier Sports Cup final against Hibernian at Hampden Park.
“Kyogo is the size of a jockey, he is playing against guys who are almost a foot taller than him and all these brave warriors on the outside are casting aspersions, are they?
“I haven’t read it, I won’t read it.
“You end up in arguments with ignorant people, you’ll eventually become one of them. So I ignore that narrative as you painted it.
“I think Kyogo has been great for our football club, he has been great for Scottish football and I will be surprised if anyone wouldn’t want somebody of his character and his playing ability in their club or in their league.
“Beyond that, as I said, who are all these brave soldiers, sitting in their studios or lounge rooms or wherever they are, throwing these narratives across the way?”
Postecoglou had stated that the hamstring injury Jota sustained against Hearts last Thursday would keep him out for a few weeks but has now confirmed he will not be fit for the final against Hibs on December 19.
The 22-year-old on-loan Benfica attacker has been one of the Hoops’ top performers this season, with eight goals so far.
Postecoglou said: “He won’t be right for the cup final, a few weeks means a few weeks.
“How long that stretches out for we’ll wait and see, but he definitely won’t be right for the cup final.
“I said it was going to be three to four weeks recovery depending how he goes, so if you look at timelines it gets pretty tight for between now and the break. We will just have to see how he recovers.”
Defender Stephen Welsh returns from a muscle injury but Tony Ralston and James Forrest miss out through knocks.
Celtic will have to settle for a place in the Europa Conference League after the turn of the year after finishing third in Group G and Postecoglou will use the game against Real Betis to give some of his fringe players a run out.
The former Australia boss said: “It makes sense for us to give some people a bit of a rest and also give some others some game time because we are definitely going to need them.
“We saw that at the weekend, we had guys like Greg Taylor and Mikey Johnston come back into the team.
“It is really important that whenever we need to make changes that somehow we give players some game time and tomorrow night is a great opportunity to do that, to give some game time to players who haven’t had a lot lately so that should they be needed going forward they have played some football against good quality opponent.”
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