REO HATATE, a dynamic performer last season, has yet to complete 90 minutes in a Celtic game this time around.
Admittedly hampered by injury, the 25-year-old Japanese midfielder has yet to get into his stride with the team now facing their tenth game of the campaign in the Champions League Group E encounter against Lazio tomorrow night.
Hatate didn’t even last an hour in the previous outing against Feyenoord in Rotterdam when he was withdrawn to make way for the unfortunate Odin Holm who was red-carded 11 minutes after his arrival in the side’s 2-0 opening-day setback.
HEADING FOR A FALL…Reo Hatate is sent flying in Celtic’s dramatic 2-1 win over Motherwell at Fir Park.
The playmaker, who had a whirlwind start to his Hoops career after joining from Kawasaki Frontale in January last year, has yet to spark although he showed signs in the 3-0 win over Livingston 10 days ago he was beginning to get up to speed.
He scored his first goal of the term with a tame penalty-kick which crept into the net via the elbow of keeper Shamal George.
At Fir Park on Saturday, Hatate received a kick in the face from Motherwell’s Callum Slattery which saw him flat out on the pitch receiving treatment for almost four minutes.
He did well to last until the 76th minute before he was withdrawn for David Turnbull before the remarkable crescendo that saw Luis Palma put the visitors ahead in the 87th minute, Blair Spittal equalise in the fifth minute of stoppage-time and Matt O’Riley net the winner two minutes later.
Hatate brought the guessing game on his future to an end last week when he eventually signed a new five-year deal which will now, hopefully, leave him clear to concentrate on his football.
IN THE WARS…Reo Hatate displays his bruised and battered face after his injury against Motherwell.
Former Celtic goal hero Chris Sutton, talking to the Daily Record, gave his thoughts on the player’s form this time around when he said: “There was a lot of speculation surrounding him in the summer and Brendan Rodgers seemed to suggest it was a distraction.
“Getting injured didn’t help. I have no problem with players looking to get big moves in the medium-to-long term. It’s the Celtic model and they should want players who are ambitious.
“But it’s over to Hatate. There is no doubt he was one of the stars of last season and if a huge bid had come in over the summer it would have been no surprise. At the moment, though, he’s not the same player.”
Tomorrow evening against the Serie A club under the lights in the east end of Glasgow could prove to be an ideal opportunity for the player to perform as we all know he can.
Will the real Reo Hatate please stand up?