Celtic have been dealt a huge blow regarding the availability of Daizen Maeda.
According to a recent report by Sky Sports, the 24-year-old has been called up by Japan for their World Cup qualifying fixtures against China on January 27 and Saudi Arabia on February 1.
The report added that the centre-forward will duly miss league matches against Hearts and Dundee United, as well as the Old Firm clash on February 2. Ange Postecoglou will be left with only Giorgos Giakoumakis as an out-and-out centre-forward for this period, as Kyogo Furuhashi is also currently unavailable for selection due to injury.
Earlier reports had initially suggested that Celtic’s Japanese internationals could be set to remain in Glasgow for their country’s upcoming international fixtures, as their country’s government had imposed a ban on the entry of all foreigners, but it now appears that an exception has been made for Maeda.
Considering how impressive Maeda was for Celtic on his debut against Hibernian earlier this week, and that the 24-year-old’s impending departure means that Postecoglou will be left with only Giakoumakis as an option up front for the end of the month, it is sure to have left the 56-year-old manager fuming.
Indeed, over his 74 minutes on the pitch against Hibs, the £1.44m-rated Japan ace scored one goal, found a team-mate with 80% of his passes, completed his one attempted dribble and made one interception. These returns saw the forward earn a SofaScore match rating of 7.3, ranking him as the Hoops’ fifth-best player to feature on the night.
As such, the fact that Celtic will be unable to call upon the Japanese hitman for three crucial fixtures in the coming weeks will undoubtedly come as a huge blow to the club’s hopes of picking up maximum points from the games in question. That could well have disastrous consequences for the Bhoys’ Premiership title hopes this season.