KYOGO FURUHASHI has seen an alarming contrast in his goalscoring fortunes at Celtic this season.

The fans’ favourite was earning massive accolades from Ange Postecoglou this time last year after thumping in a double in the 3-2 Premiership victory over their Ibrox foes at Parkhead on April 8.

Kyogo’s strikes hoisted his tally to a praiseworthy 28 to keep the Hoops on course for a second successive title triumph and their eleventh crown in 12 years.

This time around, the Japanese striker has hit only 15 goals and has been left out of the starting line-up on a few occasions with on-loan Norwich City frontman Adam Idah getting the nod from Brendan Rodgers.

CAPITAL SHOW…Kyogo Furuhashi lashes the ball past Hearts keeper Zander Clark in Celtic’s 4-1 win at Tynecastle in October.

Kyogo started the derby at Ibrox on Sunday and looked lively throughout the first-half with the champions going in 2-0 ahead at the interval after strikes from Daizen Maeda and Matt O’Riley (pen).

However, there was a curious fade in the performance of the 29-year-old international forward after the turnaround and it was no surprise when he was replaced by Idah in the 69th minute.

The record books highlight the fact Kyogo has collected a mere five goals in the second-half of games in this campaign.

Six of his first eight strikes of the term came in the opening period of matches with the exceptions coming in the 3-0 home win over Dundee and the 4-1 success against Hearts at Tynecastle.

He went seven games without getting on the scoresheet before his 46th-minute counter in the 2-0 victory over Livingston two days before Christmas.

The pacy hitman followed that up with the memorable winner against Philippe Clement’s side in the 2-1 victory at Parkhead on December 30.

GOVAN GLEE…Kyogo Furuhashi thunders in the memorable winner at Ibrox in September.

Kyogo has claimed five goals in 2024. However, only one of them – in the 4-2 Scottish Cup home win over Livingston a month ago – arrived after the interval.

Since arriving in the east end of Glasgow in a £4.6million switch from J-League outfit Vissel Kobe in July 2021, the hitman has looked inexhaustible. Despite being sidelined for four months through injury, he still struck 20 goals in his debut campaign.

He followed that up with 34 strikes last term, including vital counters in the League Cup Final with a double against Michael Beale’s Govan outfit and the opener in the Scottish Cup showpiece against Inverness Caley Thistle at Hampden on June 3 when the Hoops sealed a place in world history as the only club to win eight domestic trebles.

Exactly a year ago, Postecoglou applauded the attributes of Kygo when he said: “From the moment that guy arrived, he’s just been outstanding. I don’t remember a flat period and even when he’s not scoring he’s contributing.

“In the big games, he scores goals and he’s always available. He’s a fantastic player and an outstanding person.

“I’ve got no doubt that he’ll go down as a very good player for this football club.”

FAMILIAR POSE…Kyogo Furuhashi celebrates another Celtic strike, but he is off the pace this season.

Contrast that with the situation in which Kyogo finds himself today. There are even question marks if he will lead the attack against St Mirren at Parkhead on Saturday afternoon.

Republic of Ireland powerhouse Idah boosted his chances of getting a starting place with his strike at Ibrox for the visitors’ third goal in the dramatic and incident-packed 3-3 draw.

Observers may point to the possibility of burn-out factor from a player who rarely stands still, but the drop in fortunes is as mystifying as it is rapid.

The man who can answer the doubters is, of course, Kyogo Furuhashi and he could kick-start the process in front of a capacity crowd in Paradise against the Paisley side on Saturday.

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