TOMOKI IWATA admits he has had a reality check since joining Celtic a month ago.
The Japanese Player of the Year signed a five-year deal from Yokohama F Marinos to reunite with former manager Ange Postecoglou at the champions.
Iwata has made brief substitute appearances in the wins over Morton and Livingston and he knows he will have to step up to get the nod for a first-team start.
ON PATROL…Tomoki Iwata during his Celtic debut appearance against Morton.
The 25-year-old anchorman acknowledged Callum McGregor is the man in possession on the defensive midfield role and he admitted he can learn from the Scotland international.
Iwata said: “I knew if I wanted to play in European football, I would have to play as a holding midfielder. That’s where the manager used me at Yokohama.
“It’s been about a month since I came here, but the speed and intensity of play is different from Japan. Even the ball and pitches are all different.
“The reality is I can’t do as well as I did in Japan because we have Kyogo Furuhashi, Daizen Maeda and Reo Hatate who all start games and they all have something special that they can do – and I don’t.
“So, I want to gradually get used to it and play more matches.”
THE JUGGLER…Tomoki Iwata shows off his ball skills as goes through a warm-up routine at Tannadice.
Iwata, as reported by the Daily Record, continued: “My strengths as a holding midfielder are tackling and breaking up moves. But in this Celtic team, you need to have something extra.
“Here we have players who can create the tempo of an attack and distribute passes, for example, Callum McGregor.
“Callum McGregor is the heart of the team and the captain. I think the bar is set very high for me to be able to compete with him. But I have my own way of developing.
“Even if I don’t play in as many games, there are things I can learn from him in training.”
HOOP, HOOP HOORAY…Tomoki Iwata proudly displays his No.24 Celtic shirt.
The four times-capped star added: “When I see how he passes the ball, or how he makes a change of tempo, he is very consistent, which is something I lack.
“I think it’s important to learn that in a short time and evolve into a player who can do something when he has the ball.
“A large part of my motivation to sign for Celtic was to play in the Champions League and I would love to do that next season and I will keep fighting to improve my game here.”
Iwata’s countryman Yosuke Ideguchi, after only six appearances in just over a year, has returned to the J-League on a season-long loan to Avispa Fukuoka.