KYOGO FURUHASHI has been Celtic’s most prolific goalscorer since he arrived in a £4.6million move from J-League side Vissel Kobe in July 2021.

The pacy Japanese international hit the ground running and scored in his first start, a 4-2 away win over FK Jablonec in a Europa League qualifier.

Kyogo became an instant hero with the Hoops fans when he rifled in a sizzling hat-trick in his first appearance in Paradise as Ange Postecoglou’s new-look team demolished Dundee 6-0 in a one-sided Premiership encounter which augered well for the future.

Despite a four-month injury lay-off over two separate intervals, the striker still scored 20 goals and he added 34 last time around as the team made world record history with an eighth domestic clean sweep.

HIT…Kyogo Furuhashi is too fast for Connor Goldson as he sweeps in Celtic’s derby winner past Jack Butland at Parkhead in December.

All of which means very little to Brendan Rodgers who stresses he is only dealing with the here and now since returning as successor to Spurs-bound Postecoglou in June last year.

This season, Kyogo’s figures have dipped alarmingly and he has collected only 13 strikes. It is almost certain he will sit out the start of the midday clash with Hearts at Tynecastle today while on-loan Adam Idah, scorer of five goals in six outings, takes his place as attack-leader.

Rodgers insisted the 29-year-old hitman hasn’t shown him enough to be guaranteed a place in the top side.

The Irishman, speaking to the Daily Record, said: “In my first spell here, Leigh Griffiths had scored 40 goals the previous season. People couldn’t envisage him not being in Celtic’s starting eleven. But, for me, it’s always about the team, never one player.

“This is a sign that Kyogo has to step up, as well.

MISS…Kyogo Furuhashi steps away from Motherwell defender Bevis Mugabi, but his shot is blocked.

“He has such an important role here. He was great for two years, but I wasn’t here then.

“I can only judge on what I’m seeing now and if people aren’t performing, Celtic has to be a club where there’s someone to step in.

“The biggest clubs MUST have competition. If you don’t have it, you suffer.

“But Kyogo is still a really important player for us.”

All of a Celtic persuasion will be hoping the speedy Japanese ace gets the opportunity to demonstrate his qualities again in the capital today.

*DON’T miss the unbeatable match report and best in action images from Hearts v Celtic this afternoon – only in your champion CQN.

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