BRENDAN RODGERS has revealed the reason last season’s 34-goal top scorer Kyogo Furuhashi didn’t start the midweek friendly against Yokohama F Marinos.

The prolific hitman remained on the substitutes’ bench until the 67th minute before replacing hat-trick ace Daizen Maeda in the side’s 6-4 loss.

Rodgers explained: “Kyogo has obviously been brilliant for Celtic. But he’s still working his way to fitness.

“He’s had a bit of an issue with his shoulder, hence the reason he only came on against Yokohama.”

SITDOWN STRIKER…the signs says it all as Kyogo Furuhashi celebrates another goal.

Kyogo originally sustained the injury when John Lundstram clattered into him in only the second minute of the Hoops’ 4-0 Premiership victory in the one-sided derby encounter at Parkhead in September last year.

The Japanese attacker attempted to play on after treatment, but eventually was forced to leave the field with Giorgos Giakoumakis coming on in his place.

He suffered a recurrence of the injury in the 5-1 win over St Mirren in Paisley in February and it now appears Kyogo has not completely overcome the problem.

Returning gaffer Rodgers isn’t pressing any panic buttons as he prepares his squad for the Premiership Flag Day opener against Ross County in the east end of Glasgow a fortnight tomorrow.

The Irishman was extremely impressed by the three-goal show from Maeda who played through the middle against his former Marinos team-mates.

IN THE NET…Daizen Maeda celebrates the second of his hat-trick against Yokohama F Marinos in midweek.

Rodgers said: “I thought Daizen was outstanding. I like him more through the middle. I think he does a good job on the side, but there is a reason he plays for Japan through the middle.

“I think his penetration and his movement is terrific. I was really impressed with his touch, too, because I think he’s usually a player who is running away from the ball.

“But when he had to link the game and set the game, I thought he was very good. And how he threatened their backline was excellent.

“On top of that his pressing is phenomenal. I like players at the top end who can really press the game and Daizen can definitely do that.”

Rodgers, speaking to the Daily Record, added: “There are parts of his game to develop, but we don’t want him to be one who is running away from the ball.

THAT’S MY BHOY…Matt O’Riley congratulates three-goal ace Daizen Maeda.

“When defences are deep we need the front players to come off it, lay the ball off and get in the box. It’s an important aspect of football and I could see on Wednesday that Daizen could do that as he was excellent.

“It’s just about adding to players’ development. Daizen is still a young player who can improve. Of course, his strength is running in behind, but sometimes there won’t always be that space. So, can we develop his game and get him into areas he can work the defenders?

“However, we could see from that 60 minutes against Yokohama he can do a bit of everything – and score goals. He’s a very honest player who will play anywhere for the team. He’s done a really job playing out wide.

“But when I look at his strengths he’s very much suited to playing central.”

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