BRENDAN RODGERS will be lumbered with a massive striking dilemma when three of his top frontmen are missing during the Asia Cup.

The Hoops boss will almost certainly be without his top marksman Kyogo Furuhashi and his back-up Oh Hyeon-gyu when the forwards are called up by Japan and South Korea respectively, a predicament flagged up by CQN earlier this month.

Daizen Maeda, who has proved in the past he is an option through the middle, is another who will be on international duty – if, of course, he recovers from the injury that is currently keeping him on the sidelines.

PARADISE…Kyogo Furuhashi celebrates another Celtic strike.

Hoops fans are concerned about the lack of firepower with Reo Hatate and Yang Hyun-jun also heading for the international tournament which kicks off in Qatar on January 12 with the Final due on February 10.

The SPFL’s winter break begins on January 3 and concludes 16 days later which means Rodgers could be missing pivotal players for up to five games, depending on the progress of the two nations.

Celtic are due to play Premiership matches against Hibs and Aberdeen away – and Kilmarnock and Ross County at home – as well as a Scottish Cup-tie to be fitted into that schedule.

Looking at the situation, former Hoops goal hero Chris Sutton said: “There’s a clamour for another striker if Kyogo and Oh are away – along with Maeda – it leaves Celtic with a huge hole up front.

“But are they going to splash the cash to bring in someone who is going to play second fiddle to Kyogo and perhaps hinder the development of Oh? I doubt it.

SCOTLAND THE RAVE…Lawrence Shankland thumps in a header for the stoppage-time equaliser in the 2-2 draw with Georgia in Tblisi in  midweek.

“Some people have chucked Lawrence Shankland’s name into the frame. Forget about it. There are enough people trying to hawk him to Rangers and it remains to be seen if they can even afford the Hearts striker.

“Celtic can afford him, but he just doesn’t fit the bill. That’s not to say I don’t rate him as a player. It’s got nothing to do with his apparent allegiances, either.

“He would probably score goals for Celtic. But are they going to spend maybe £3millon or £4million on a 28-year-old back-up? Highly unlikely.”

Sutton, speaking to the Daily Record, continued: “Shankland needs to be playing every week to have a chance of being part of the Scotland squad at the Euros and there’s no guarantee he’d get that at Celtic.

“Meanwhile, Oh has shown some real signs of potential and you’d think he’d get more opportunities in the hectic run up to the winter shutdown.

“I like his attitude. He’s not had much game time this season, but has kept working away and waiting for his chance. In recent weeks, he has grabbed it. There’s still a lot of polish required, but there’s definitely a player there – and there will have to be.”

HONDURAN’S HIGH HOPES AT THE HOOPS…Luis Palma is striking good form at Celtic.

Sutton added: “Celtic are going to need all hands to the pump during an intensive period and there is no doubt they are already stretched. It’s a bloated squad that’s slightly thin on quality.

“The positives are that Luis Palma is showing real promise. The jury is still out despite superb numbers in terms of goals and assets. He’s got seven goals and eight assists in just 18 appearances – including setting up three against Aberdeen and scoring one himself.

“There are wide players who don’t produce those stats over an entire season. It’s tough for him as he has big boots to fill as Jota’s apparent replacement.

“But he doesn’t look overawed by the challenge. He’s certainly got a deadly right foot, but the good thing about Palma is that he’s learning all the time. He was hitting the byline against Aberdeen and mixing up his game.

“His cross for Oh’s goal with the outside of his right boot was a touch of class and brought back memories of Lubo Moravcik.

“Don’t get me wrong, he’s got a long way to go to get to Lubo’s level. but I do think there’s more to come from him.”

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