REO HATATE could be out for EIGHT WEEKS after an early diagnosis of his most recent setback was revealed.

Celtic’s influential midfielder has seen this season decimated with a persistent hamstring problem and, unfortunately, the injury flared again in Japan’s Asian Cup match in Qatar in midweek.

Hatate, who, along with Hoops team-mate Daizen Maeda, sat out the tournament opener against Vietnam, was introduced to the action against Iraq and Indonesia. The gifted playmaker came though without mishap, but was forced off 10 minutes before half-time in the 3-1 win over Bahrain.

EMOTIONAL EMBRACE…Brendan Rodgers greets Reo Hatate after his substitute appearance following the 3-0 win over St Mirren a month ago.

Brendan Rodgers now fears another extended period of the player in rehab if the diagnosis of a torn calf muscle is accurate.

The shattering news came from local media outlet Gekisaka and it if proves to be correct, Hatate is expected to be sidelined for a lengthy spell with two months the worst case scenario.

The middle-of-the-park operator will remain with his county’s squad for immediate treatment from the national medical staff before returning to Glasgow. Japan are due to play Iran in the quarter-final tomorrow.

Concerns over Hatate’s fitness were flagged up early in the season when he had to be replaced in the second Premiership game of the campaign. He came on for David Turnbull at the interval of the 3-1 win over tomorrow’s opponents Aberdeen at Pittodrie.

However, he lasted only 24 minutes before being struck down with the recurrence of his calf problem with new Bhoy Odin Holm coming on in his place.

ANGUISH…Reo Hatate leaves the field early in Celtic’s Champions League match against Atletico Madrid.

Hatate made a comeback before being stricken again with the muscular issue. He made a late cameo appearance in the 3-0 win over St Mirren in Paisley on January 2 – his first sighting on a football pitch since he limped off early in the 2-2 draw with Atletico Madrid in the Champions League encounter at Parkhead on October 25.

The 26-year-old missed FIFTEEN consecutive games before his appearance against the Saints and he was embraced by boss Rodgers at the final whitle.

The Irishman, as CQN reported, said: “You could see afterwards Reo was actually quite emotional to be back out on the pitch again.

“He’s put in so much hard work and he’s a big, big player for us.

“So, hopefully, he can go away and get some minutes and keep his fitness up because when he comes back he’s going to be huge for us in the second half of the season.”

Unfortunately, the manager’s words haven’t proved to be prophetic and there could be another lengthy lay-off ahead for Hatate who has managed a mere 11 appearances in an injury-jinxed crusade.


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