J-LEAGUE Player of the Year Tomoki Iwata has already impressed Celtic great Peter Grant – after just 45 minutes of first-team action.
The new Bhoy took his Parkhead bow as a second-half substitute for Callum McGregor as Celtic overcame Championship side Morton on Saturday to set up a home Scottish Cup fifth round encounter with St Mirren next month.
Iwata arrived in Scotland a fortnight earlier following his five-year contract switch in a move believed to be around the £1million mark to reunite with his former Yokohama F Marinos gaffer at the champions.
ON PATROL…Celtic new Bhoy Tomoki Iwata during his debut appearance against Morton.
The 25-year-old anchorman was eased into the action with the team already four goals ahead at the interval courtesy of a double from his compatriot Kyogo Furuhashi and singles from Aaron Mooy, with a penalty-kick, and David Turnbull.
Grant was a tenacious ball-winner in his days in the team’s engine room alongside the likes of playmakers Paul McStay and John Collins and was never known to shirk a tackle.
The one-time Celtic fans’ favourite said: “Iwata’s got a great physique and is very powerful. He moves the ball quickly. People will say no-one got close to him at the weekend and it was easy.
“But he made the space form himself so no-one could get close to him. That’s an intelligent footballer.
“He just moves the ball about and he probably had more chances in 45 minutes than some had in the full game. He was always available and appears to be a strong character. That’s what the manager looks for.”
CRUNCH…Peter Grant clashes with Raith Rovers’ Jim McInally as they tussle for possession.
Grant, speaking to the Daily Record, added: “Ange Postecoglou wants power, physically and mentally.
“People say the middle of the pitch is where games are won and lost and you look at the options Celtic had the other day who didn’t play.
“I thought Celtic might have struggled when Callum McGregor was out, but Matt O’Riley adjusted his position and did really well. You have Hatate, too. Aaron Mooy has been excellent since he got back from the World Cup.
“David Turnbull been very unfortunate with injury problems, but every time he plays he’s a goal threat.
“Ange has 20-odd players now and he could pick any team and you’d struggle to work out the strongest line-up. The subs he makes doesn’t make the side any weaker.”