YUKI KOBAYASHI is hoping opportunity knocks to give him the launch pad to his career as a Celtic player.

The 22-year-old centre-back agreed a five-year deal last month which kicked in six days go when his international clearance came through.

Canada World Cup right-back Alistair Johnston got the green light on his Hoops move at the same time and the £3.5million buy from MLS outfit CF Montreal was pitched in 24 hours later for a quickfire baptism of fire in the 2-2 draw at Ibrox.

Left-sided defender Kobayashi, who is looking forward to teaming up again with former Vissel Kobe team-mate Kyogo Furuhashi at the champions, spent the 90 minutes-plus on the substitutes’ bench.

WAITING GAME…Yuki Kobayashi shares the Ibrox dug-out with Filipe Jota, boss Ange Postecoglou, No.2 John Kennedy and coach Harry Kewell during the 2-2 draw in the first game of 2023.

Asked about the defender’s situation, Ange Postecoglou, speaking to The Scotsman, said: “We’ll see. It’s about opportunity.

“He’s been training with us now for two or three weeks and joined us in Portugal.

“Yuki’s a little bit different to Ali [Johnston] in that Ali played at the World Cup. Yuki hasn’t had a competitive game for quite a while, so it’s just about introducing him at the right time.”

Postecoglou’s favoured double-act in central defence is Cameron Carter-Vickers and Carl Starfelt while he has Stephen Welsh and Moritz Jenz, on loan from Lorient until the end of the season, as back-up.

It looks as though Kobayshi will have to bide his time before he gets the call to make the breakthrough appearance.

However, as Postecoglou proved with Johnston at the start of the week, he will not hesitate to field the youngster when he believes the time is right.

* DON’T miss the unbeatable match report from Celtic v Kilmarnock this afternoon – only in your champion CQN.

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