We know that the upcoming AFC Asian Cup will have an impact on Celtic. It starts on January 12 next year and runs through to the final on February 10. The Hoops face the prospect of seeing several key players being selected by their respective national teams and being without them during an important phase of the season.
That could be significant, especially in the final third of the pitch with Kyogo Furuhashi, Daizen Maeda, Hyeon-gyu Oh and Hyun-jun Yang all expected to be called up. Reo Hatate is another possible player depending on his recovery from injury. It makes recruiting cover, especially forwards, in the January transfer window even more critical.
There is some good news for the Hoops though when it comes to the AFC Asian Cup. In an unexpected move, Marco Tilio has been selected for the 26-man Australia national team squad for the tournament.
The player signed for Celtic last summer, but an injury was said to have kept him out of the preseason matches. Tilio has only made a couple of brief substitute appearances so far and needs to get things on track as soon as possible.
Celtic player's AFC Asian Cup call up is great news for the club
Socceroos manager Graham Arnold has explained his selection of Tilio. As reported by Football Scotland, he said:
"I think I can be honest here and say if it [squad regulations] stayed at 23 there was probably a good chance that Marco wouldn't have come but the fact that it got extended to 26 it enables us to have someone completely different that can play left wing, right wing, number 10. He’s got the experience of major tournaments, being with me at the Olympics in 2021. But also the World Cup and I do believe this can help his Celtic career."
One hopes that Tilio gets an occasional chance in the Australian side during the tournament. Perhaps as an impact sub more than a starter. The whole experience with the Socceroos and some potential match time could be a huge benefit to the player as well as the Hoops.
Perhaps we as fans, and Brendan Rodgers as manager, will get to see more of the player in competitive action and what he might bring to Celtic. And if he does well, it could open up some doors at Parkhead.