I’m a great believer in footballers having a point to prove. Reo Hatate is such a case. Over the summer he spoke about how his form tailed off towards the end of last season and he planned to up his game this term, which he has.
Now, omitted from the Japan squad for their game against USA, his chance of being involved at the World Cup appears limited. From our return to action on Saturday, Celtic have 13 games in six weeks before club football breaks and players head off to Qatar.
In that time, Reo will help his team qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League. His performances in this tournament against Real Madrid and Shakhtar Donetsk demonstrate he can operate comfortably at this elite level. Helping Celtic reach the next stage will platform him and his teammates.
The player’s disappointment is understandable, but it would do no harm if he and Kyogo again missed out on action when Japan face Ecuador in Germany tomorrow.