Key Celtic player could return before Glasgow Derby vs Rangers

Celtic v Livingston - Scottish Cup
Celtic v Livingston - Scottish Cup / Ian MacNicol/GettyImages

Celtic recently progressed to the Scottish Cup semi-final, as they got the better of Livingston. It was a closer game than anticipated but two late goals sealed the win for Brendan Rodgers' side. While this is all well and good, the manager will have one thing on his mind above everything else, and that is the Premiership.

Before Scottish Cup action at the weekend, Celtic had the perfect opportunity to climb back to the top of the league table. But they failed to take advantage of the Rangers' shortcomings, with both Glasgow teams losing on the 29th matchday of the campaign. Therefore, the Hoops remain in second place.

There are two Glasgow Derbies in the league still to be played, with the first of those set for April 7. Celtic will travel to Ibrox, where a win would be enough for them to move above their rivals, assuming the gap is still two points by then.

With that being said, Rodgers will be hoping to field his strongest possible lineup for the Glasgow Derby. It is the biggest match of Celtic's season and fortunately, a key player could be back from injury before then.

Key Celtic player could return before Glasgow Derby vs Rangers

One player whom Rodgers could have the chance to call upon at Ibrox is Reo Hatate. The Japanese international has not been a mainstay in the starting lineup, starting just four Premiership matches this season due to constant injury problems. However, when fit, he can be a difference maker, as we have seen in the past, even in Glasgow Derbies.

Hatate is set to return to first-team training over the international break. It is believed he will be back in contention for the title run-in. As reported by the Daily Record, Rodgers said:

"Yeah, Reo is progressing well. He’s out on the pitch doing his work so we’re hoping that after the international break he’ll be with the squad. He’ll be training with the group in the international break and will be available afterwards. It’s more looking for the Livingston game afterward the break.

“After the international break, we’ve got a big game then. Just having the availability of that level of player, the dynamism he has, clearly it’s something that we’ve missed. So to have him back will be great."

Brendan Rodgers

As one of Celtic's best players, fans understandably hope that Hatate's upcoming injury return is the final return he'll have to make for the foreseeable future. After all, having a player of his quality from now until the end of the season could bolster the club's chances considerably.