ANGE POSTECOGLOU has dispelled fears Reo Hatate’s season Is over.
The Japanese midfielder lasted only 13 minutes of the 3-1 win over Hibs at Parkhead on March 18 before limping off with what looked like a muscle injury.
Hatate also sat out the 2-0 victory over Ross County in Dingwall and the 3-2 success over Michael Beale’s Ibrox outfit at the weekend.
REO BRAVO…midfield ace Hatate fires in a drive during Celtic’s 3-0 Scottish Cup win over Hearts at Tynecastle last month. Toby Sibbick gets a close-up view.
The 25-year-old action man has also been ruled out of making a comeback on Kilmarnock’s plastic pitch at Rugby Park on Sunday, but his manager insisted the fans’ favourite WILL be back in the run-in to another invigorating campaign.
The Hoops are 12 points clear at the Premiership summit and only require three wins from their remaining seven games to claim their second successive title.
The most likely date for a return is the Scottish Cup semi-final against the Govan club at Hampden on Sunday April 30.
Postecoglou, speaking to the Daily Record, admitted: “It’s fair to say Reo won’t make next week. But he won’t be out long term. It’s just a case of making sure he’s ready to go.
SHOVE OFF…Matt O’Riley powers away from Ryan Kent as Celtic head for another derby triumph.
“Reo has been fantastic for us. He’s always performed well for us in the derby games, in the big games. I think if you look back chronologically at the year, whenever we need a contribution from people we have always had it.
“No-one has let any gaps appear in our football, in our squad or in our line-up. Whoever steps in does what needs to be done.”
Matt O’Riley and David Turnbull have claimed some valuable game time in Hatate’s absence while his countryman Tomoki Iwata, an impressive substitute on Saturday, made his first start in the win over Malky Mackay’s Highlanders.
There is clearly no need for Postecoglou to take a risk and rush the Player of the Year contender back into the frontline.