Daizen Maeda OUT of Celtic vs Rangers as striker to also miss crunch Hearts clash

Celtic will be without striker Daizen Maeda for crunch showdowns with Hearts and Rangers after he was called up for Japan’s World Cup qualifiers.

But Reo Hatate will be available for the vital fixtures, which also includes a home clash with Dundee United sandwiched between the visit to Gorgie on January 26 and hosting their biggest rivals a week later.

Japan face China on January 27 before they take on group leaders Saudi Arabia on February 1 with both fixtures at home.

The Premiership’s winter break was moved back after fan numbers were capped at just 500, and while the February 2 clash with Rangers will go ahead in front of a full Parkhead, the new date presents issues of its own.

Ange Postecoglou will also be without Tom Rogic who has been called up by Australia.

Celtic talisman Kyogo Furuhashi is currently sidelined with a hamstring injury and a major doubt for Rangers in any case, so has not been called by his country.


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Similarly Yosuke Ideguchi has not been recalled by his country and was always viewed as a a long shot.

However, Maeda has been included in the team to face China and Saudi Arabia.

Hajime Moriyasu had initially feared that Covid guidelines would permit him to call only players based in the J League.

And the Japanese boss has talked up the inclusion of the Maeda, who finished as joint J-League top scorer last season.

He said: “What I expect from him are goals. He scored shortly into his debut for Celtic and he was the J1 (co-)top scorer last season. That’s what I want from him.

“I think he earned this transfer because (Postecoglou) knows his character and his quality. That’s a big advantage and is a big reason for why we called him up.

“A lot of the time right after a transfer, managers don’t know how to use their new players and integrate them into the side, and in those cases we might not call them up. But Postecoglou knows how to use Daizen … it’s very important for the manager to understand the player.”

And Japan have been able to name a strong squad with the likes of Takehiru Tomiyasu, and Takumi Minamino included.

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