JAPANESE new Bhoy Yuki Kobayashi strolled through his Celtic first-team debut in the 4-0 win over St Mirren at Parkhead last night.
The 22-year-old left-sided central defender was pitched in as Carl Starfelt was moved across to replace the injured Cameron Carter-Vickers.
Ange Postecoglou had no doubts Kobayashi, whose five-year contract from Vissel Kobe was given international clearance on January 1, could handle the rigours of physical players such as Curtis Main and Jonah Ayunga who had imposed themselves on Stephen Welsh and Mortiz Jenz when the Saints won 2-0 in Paisley in September.
WELCOME TO PARADISE…Yuki Kobayashi joins in the celebrations with Kyogo Furuhashi and Carl Starfelt after Liel Abada’s opening goal against St Mirren.
The youngster, however, coped throughout the 90-plus minutes and finished strongly after his former J-League team-mate Kyogo Furuhashi had fired in a double in the four-goal romp with Liel Abada and David Turnbull adding the others.
There was almost a goal, too, to mark the occasion, but the defender’s left-foot shot smacked off the post before Abada drilled in the breakthrough strike.
Reflecting on Kobayashi’s first appearance, Postecoglou, speaking to Celtic, said: “He’s a fairly young guy still getting to grips with football here and life here, but I thought he handled himself well.
“They are a physical team, they’re pretty direct in the way they deal with a few things and I think he showed his qualities on the ball and he’ll get better from that.”
Carter-Vickers, who sustained an injury in the 2-0 Viaplay Cup victory over Kilmarnock at the weekend, wasn’t risked against the Saints and it is likely he will be given a rest when Championship side Morton provide the opposition in the east end of Glasgow in the Scottish Cup opener on Saturday.
That could open the door for the impressive Kobayashi to get another opportunity to impress his manager and the Hoops fans.