REO HATATE has admitted he is suffering from “emotional and physical fatigue” as he prepares for Celtic’s five-game run-in to the Premiership.
The 24-year-old Japanese international midfielder is nearing the end of a gruelling and exhausting period in which he played an entire season for Kawasaki Frontale in the J-League, joined the Hoops on Hogmanay, made his debut against Hibs on January 17 and has also figured in his country’s World Cup squad.
Hatate revealed he was so tired after his travels around the globe he was seeing double during a training session at Lennoxtown.
ON THE BALL…Reo Hatate in action at Hampden on Sunday.
The stylish left-sided playmaker netted twice and set up the third for Liel Abada in a stunning derby debut in February, but, along with several of his team-mates, he failed to hit those heights in the Scottish Cup semi-final extra-time defeat against the Ibrox side at the weekend.
Hatate looked out on his feet at Hampden and was eventually replaced in the 109th minute by David Turnbull.
Although the player is understandably feeling the strain, he insists he does NOT want a rest and is eager to contribute as much as possible to Ange Postecoglou’s side in their quest for a tenth title in 11 years.
The middle-of-the-park performer said: “Since my debut against Hibernian, I’ve felt the intensity of the European game and played a number of games. The fact that I’ve kept getting appearances shows that the team trusts in me and that has given me a lot of confidence.
UP IN ARMS…Reo Hatate celebrates a goal against Hearts at Tynecastle in January.
“But for what feels like the first time, I’m definitely feeling emotional and physical fatigue. It’s been three months since I arrived in Glasgow and getting used to a new environment on and off the pitch has been trial and error.
“In Japan, there were ways I could refresh myself and take a mental break, but that’s difficult when you’re playing so frequently.
“There are times when I can’t make a run on goal, or hold back on the attack to preserve the team’s balance, and I have to recognise my fatigue.
“For the national team I had to go to Australia, then Japan, and back to Scotland. It was my first call-up as an overseas player and I was confronted with the difficulty of maintaining your condition while travelling and then immediately having to get results for your team.
“When you’re away from your team on national team duty there’s a chance you can lose your position.”
HAL, HAIL…Reo Hatate and Daizen Maeda celebrate the 3-0 derby triumph at Parkhead in February.
Hatate continued: “My first day back at Celtic, there was a moment that I saw two balls and was clearly jetlagged, but in Europe you need to be tough enough to stay fit and fight for your position.
“So, to start against Rangers gave me a lot of confidence. It was huge to be able to help create the equaliser.
“On the match sheet, I didn’t score a goal or record an assist, but it was huge that I was able to leave my mark on the team’s victory.”
Hatate, speaking to local media Sportiva and reported in the Daily Record, added: “Daizen Maeda talked about how even though the team has been building on what it’s been doing, those of us who joined mid-season have added our own strength and helped push us into first place.
“I definitely feel tired, but I want to keep doing whatever I can to help the team win the league.
“I think I will become tougher and stronger as a result.”