KYOGO FURUHASHI will frighten the life out of the opposing defenders at Ibrox on Sunday – even if he is just sitting on the substitutes’ bench.
That’s the view of former Celtic striking star Frank McAvennie as Ange Postecoglou prepares to take his players across Glasgow for the third derby of the campaign in the High Noon showdown in Govan.
Kyogo has not kicked a ball in the first team this year since limping off in the 3-1 win over St Johnstone in Perth on Boxing Day with a damaged hamstring.
The Japanese international had claimed 16 goals before injury struck him down with his last strike coming in the 2-1 Premier Sports League Cup Final triumph over Hibs at Hampden on December 19.
THE WINNER IS ON ITS WAY…Kyogo Furuhashi prepares to lob in the Premier Sports League Cup clincher with Hibs defender Ryan Porteous helplessly looking on.
THE LAST HURRAH…Kyogo turns away in triumph as the Hibs defenders get that sinking feeling.
Postecoglou has resisted the temptation to rush back the club’s talisman and the pacy raider has not been anywhere near his squad for the last 16 games at home and abroad.
But McAvennie, the Hoops’ hero in the centenary Scottish Cup Final against Dundee United when he netted two goals as Billy McNeill’s men came back to lift the silverware to join the title in 1988, reckons it might be worthwhile just placing the £4.6million summer arrival from the J-league on the bench to unsettle the hosts’ back lot.
The one-time attack-leader, now 62, said: “Kyogo is the man. It’s the first time in years I have seen someone at Celtic running in behind.
“His pace frightens the life out of defenders and I’m sure the Rangers backline would prefer it if he was nowhere near Ibrox or any of the derbies that are coming up.
MERCHANT OF MENACE…pacy Daizen Maeda has impressed.
“Daizen Maeda and Giorgos Giakoumakis, too – Celtic have really good options up there.
“All three have been great additions. Giakoumakis gives you that presence the others don’t.
“But Kyogo, with his pace and touch, is the man for me. Even just being on the bench could unnerve Rangers, if he’s waiting for his chance.
“Will the manager fancy playing two in the run-in? I’m not so sure. It seems to be one or the other.
“Maybe Maeda can play out on the left, but that’s Jota’s spot until the end of the season for me.”
Celtic are three points ahead with seven games to play and have two other encounters against Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side to face as they chase a phenomenal silverware treble in Postecoglou’s debut campaign.
IN WITH A SHOUT…12-goal Giorgos Giakoumakis has sparkled in second part of the campaign.
A Scottish Cup semi-final is due at Hampden a fortnight after Sunday’s crunch confrontation and another league clash will take place at Parkhead after the split.
McAvennie, speaking to the Daily Record, continued: “The key for me is the fact Celtic are no longer playing Thursday nights. It’s a long, hard season and Rangers have been brilliant in Europe.
“But one of their games against Braga falls just days before the semi-final. They will say it doesn’t matter, but it does.
“Celtic looked sharper after being knocked out of Europe. Everything was quick whereas in the few games beforehand, coming off Thursday night matches, they were a bit off it. That week off helped.”
The Greek-Australian gaffer has brought in SEVENTEEN players in his monumental squad rebuild and there are indications he will continue the revamp in his third transfer window in the summer.
McAvennie reckons there are some in the first-team squad who will be heading for the exit.
DOWN AND OUT…flop striker Albian Ajeti is heading for the Hoops exit.
He added: “One thing for sure – Albian Ajeti is out the window now. They have to get him out in the summer. He’s not going to get a game.
“He never got a game at West Ham, so I thought when he came up here he’d have his work cut out.
“Mikey Johnston, too. He has been a good servant, he’s a talented boy, but he’s not done it in recent games.
“There will be another overhaul in the summer. If Mikey wants to stay then he really needs to step up before the end of the season. He should be relishing every chance he gets.
“The good thing is that this manager has given everyone a chance. Even wee Karamoko Dembele has come on a couple of times in the last few weeks.
“These boys need to look at Jota, Liel Abada and James Forrest and realise that’s the standard they need to get to if they’re to have a future at Celtic.”