CHRIS SUTTON has urged Brendan Rodgers to team up Kyogo Furuhashi and Oh Hyeon-gyu against Kilmarnock tomorrow.
The Hoops boss’ usual formation has one up front, almost exclusively the prolific Japanese striker, but the team’s former goal hero believes the South Korean could also get the nod to play on the “monstrosity” of a pitch at Rugby Park.
Oh replaced Kyogo in the 4-1 romp against Hibs at Parkhead in midweek and knocked in a double to help the champions maintain their eight-point advantage at the Premiership pinnacle.
Rodgers made a change just after the hour mark when the powerhouse frontman came off and the club’s top marksman over the past two seasons made his entrance.
OH HAPPY DAY…South Korean powerhouse Hyeon-gyu celebrates his second goal against Hibs in the 4-1 win.
Looking at the intriguing situation, Sutton asked: “How can he drop Oh after Wednesday? You’d expect Kyogo to return to the team, but it would be harsh on the Korean to drop out after scoring a double.
“He brings something different to the Celtic side. He’s a physical presence and he is a total nuisance for defenders. Celtic even looked dangerous at corner-kicks for a change the other night.
“Rugby Park is a real banana skin. The monstrosity of a pitch is an issue, but you know Killie will be physical.
“They’ll have their three doormen at the back, they will sit deep and they’ll look to get the ball quickly up top. Oh’s strength might some in handy. It doesn’t have to be at the expense of Kyogo, though – they could play together.
“I know Rodgers likes to have one through the middle with two wide men either side and that doesn’t leave room for one of the strikers. But I’d like to see the pair of them given a go as a partnership.
ON THE RUN…Kyogo Furuhashi races away from Kilmarnock’s Daniel Armstrong in Celtic’s Rugby Park Viaplay League Cup loss in August.
“Rodgers has changed shape and style a few times this season. We saw in midweek with the tweak in midfield that allowed Callum McGregor to push further forward and Tomoki Iwata slotting into the holding role.
“You would think he’d stick with that now as it worked a treat, but you could argue there might not be the need for an extra man in the middle tomorrow as Killie will be more direct. That could free up the space for a front two.”
Rodgers was fulsome in his praise of Oh after his performance against the Edinburgh club, but made a point of telling Mikey Johnston “he needs to do more” after his first start of the campaign.
Sutton, speaking to the Daily Record, continued: “There has been some refreshing honesty from Rodgers in recent weeks over important things like recruitment and performances.
“You want to hear managers telling it how it is. But, at the same time, I’ve got to say I find the public digging out of Mikey Johnston a bit odd. Rodgers was critical of the winger, saying he needed to do more on the pitch. It’s fair enough thinking it, but actually saying it in public is another matter. That kind of thing can go either way.
“It might give Johnston motivation – but it could also heap more pressure on a player who already seems to have a lot on his shoulders. It is a gamble because Celtic and Rodgers need Johnston right now
“They just don’t have enough options in the wide areas during this busy festive spell to not have him on the pitch.
“Luis Palma has done pretty well, but it’s clear Yang is not up to it yet. He looked like someone who had won a raffle to get a game in the first-half last weekend and while he may have talent he still looks a good bit away from having what it takes at this level.
“Marco Tilio clearly hasn’t done enough to force his way in either. With Daizen Maeda and Liel Abada out, that only leaves James Forrest, so Johnston will be required to play his part.”
PERTH, WIND AND FIRE…Mikey Johnston is clearly unhappy with St Johnstone keeper Dimitar Mitov in Celtic’s 3-1 win at McDiarmid Park.
The one-time England international forward added: “It might be Rodgers is just trying to light a fire under the Ireland cap. I’ve seen it before and it can work.
“Proving a manager wrong can be a big driving factor for a player. But it can also be a dangerous game when sometimes the arm around the shoulder does the trick.
“I don’t think he was particularly poor against Hibs. He started brightly, was chasing back and causing some problems, and then he faded.
“But it was his first start in almost two years so maybe that was to be expected and you could cut him some slack.
“I’ve said before, Johnston does have ability, but he is 24 now and needed to be doing it on a consistent basis. There needs to be an end product, but that is only going to come with games and minutes on the pitch.
“He should get that in the next few weeks. Johnston will be called on and it will be interesting to see how he responds to his public criticism.
“He is already been told he is playing for his future with January approaching and his contract running down.”