REO HATATE is hoping to salvage something from the wreckage of a miserable season that has seen him make a paltry 13 appearances.

The Japanese playmaker has been a bit-part player in a campaign that promised so much before the big kick-off in August following an eye-catching previous term in which the team completed a world record eighth domestic treble.

Hatate, though, has been cursed with a troublesome hamstring problem which has seen him unavailable for selection on a consistent basis ever since he broke down in the second league game against Aberdeen at Pittodrie.

The midfielder took over from David Turnbull at the interval and was in turn replaced by Odin Holm in the 70th minute after collapsing in anguish.

HAPPY DAZE…Reo Hatate is congratulated by Matt O’Riley after tucking away a penalty-kick in the 3-0 win at Livingston in September.

Hatate’s last start for the Hoops was back in October in the 2-2 Champions League draw with Atletico Madrid at Parkhead. He was already on the ground by the time his countryman Kyogo Furuhashi flashed the hosts into the lead in the fourth minute.

He tried to carry on, but, three minutes later, he limped off with Paulo Bernardo taking his place.

Celtic have eight Premiership hurdles to overcome and a Scottish Cup semi-final against Aberdeen to win which will set up the silverware showpiece encounter at Hampden on the iconic date of May 25.

Hatate hasn’t figured this year since a cameo appearance in the 3-0 victory over St Mirren on January 2 and the best he can hope for is 23 outings in what would be a 50-game season. It wasn’t the plan back in summer.

Frustrated boss Rodgers has scheduled a bounce game during the international break and the 26-year-old international will figure as he attempts to get much-needed participation before the Premiership restarts at Livingston a week on Sunday with the trip to Ibrox scheduled for seven days later.

Hatate has been back in training with the squad at Lennoxtown and the Irishman admitted his player was “progressing well”. Now he is poised to take that up a level.

REO WOE…the Japanese midfielder can’t hide his grief as he is forced to come off against Atletico Madrid after only seven minutes.

Rodgers said: “That’s the plan. We want to get minutes into Reo and push him on.

“Having the availability of that level of player, the dynamism he has, clearly it’s something that we’ve missed.

“Reo will be huge for us.”

The Irishman has seen his squad ravaged by injuries this season with inspirational captain Callum McGregor and influential centre-back Cameron Carter-Vickers among a list of the walking wounded.

Alistair Johnston, Greg Taylor, Yang Hyun-jun, Daizen Maeda, Stephen Welsh, Maik Nawrocki and Luis Palma have also been ruled out for a variety of reasons in a difficult and testing comeback campaign for the Hoops manager.

Liam Scales is the latest victim and was forced onto the sidelines for the 3-1 win over St Johnstone at the weekend.

THAT’S MY BHOY…Brendan Rodgers offers encouragement to an emotional Reo Hatate after his substitute appearance in the 3-0 victory over St Mirren in Paisley on January 2.

Rodgers, speaking to the Daily Record, added: “It’s just been one of those seasons. Players have picked up funny little injuries – like Reo who was coming back and then picked one up with his international team.

“We’ve been close to getting everyone back and around it. There was a little period there, but it hasn’t sort of happened yet.

“The important thing is we are still there, still fighting and still in a really good place.

“We’ll get some of the players working here, have a game and get some of them up to speed.

“Then we will go into the last leg of the race, which I’m looking forward to.”

Hatate and Co will certainly echo those sentiments.

Click Here for Comments >

About Author