Brendan Rodgers was delighted with the Celtic win over Dundee FC at the weekend. The three goals would have come as a relief to the Northern Irishman as well, as the Hoops had struggled to score lately. He seemed even more pleased when talking about the performance of one of his players.
The 3-0 victory at home over Dundee FC was notable for a few reasons. A couple of outstanding goals really stood out. Callum McGregor’s chip-through for a well-taken Kyogo Furuhashi header was a definite off-your-seat moment. The Japanese forward’s clever play to lay the ball back for Matt O’Riley to strike home the third goal was another.
The second-half performance certainly had more pace and better movement from Rodgers’ team. Although the penalty kick put away neatly by David Turnbull will have helped, it was notable that the whole midfield clicked far better when Reo Hatate came on.
Hatate replaced Turnbull as a 60th-minute substitute. It gave the Japanese midfielder 30 minutes on the pitch as he made his return from injury.
Rodgers makes superb claim about returning Celtic player
Hatate’s return to fitness and to the pitch was very welcome news for the fans and for Rodgers. Especially with the Champions League opener coming up away to Feyenoord in midweek.
Rodgers was clearly impressed with Hatate and the difference he can bring to the side. As reported by the club’s official website, he said:
"“Reo is an outstanding player and brings us a dynamic in the team that the other midfielders don’t have.“We gave him 30 minutes to see how he recovers from that and we can see for Tuesday. Once he gets in flow he’s a very good player for us.”"
Although Turnbull has a few goals to his name this season, he has faded over the last few games and didn’t stand out again against Dundee FC, penalty goal apart. Hatate added more composure, creativity and technique to the Celtic midfield in his short 30-minute appearance.
Subject to his post-injury fitness, that appearance should be enough to give Hatate the edge in selection terms for midweek. Most fans would certainly prefer to see his name in the starting lineup ahead of Turnbull.
It looks as though Rodgers recognises the value Hatate brings to the table too. And with the club rumoured to have opened fresh talks with the midfielder over a new contract, it seems to be good news all around about the player.