Despite Celtic’s Japanese midfield ace Reo Hatate having two good games at right-back for Celtic against Hibs last night, and especially against St Johnstone on Christmas Eve where he scored two goals, it is the opinion of most fans and pundits that he will unlikely start there against ‘Rangers’ on Monday.
Hatate has filled in at right-back due to the absence of Josip Juranovic being away due to the World Cup and injury to Tony Ralston, and he has looked very assured. He scored two goals and was man of the match again St Johnstone, and was also very comfortable against Hibs, especially going forward, but he did look shaky at the start of the match and got skinned a couple of times early on.
Against ‘Rangers’, he’s going to be up against Ryan Kent, and to be honest, I don’t fancy Hatate up against him in a 1 v 1 defensively, because he obviously isn’t a natural defender and he doesn’t have the pace to keep up with Kent.
Ralston is still injured and may not be fit to play as he wasn’t involved at all in the squad to play Hibs last night.
Juranovic was on the bench having just came back from the World Cup, but with a January move looming, is he going to be in the right mindset to play in such a fixture? And also, would Ange risk him getting injured and scuppering a big sale? I’m not sure.
People seem certain though that Juranovic will com back in, but let’s not forget, Alistair Johnston is fit and available to make his debut, and has apparently impressed in training. It would not surprise me if Ange started him. I think he has the right temperament for this fixture, as well as the pace and physicality to deal with Kent effectively. I think we could well see a surprise start for the Canadian on the 2nd, especially if Ralston remains sidelined through injury.