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Kyogo Furuhashi could start for Celtic in Scottish Cup semi-final
Giorgos Giakoumakis has been all but ruled out of the Hampden contest.
Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou could unleash Kyogo Furuhashi from the start against Rangers after Giorgos Giakoumakis was all but ruled out of the Scottish Cup semi-final.
Furuhashi made his comeback from a hamstring injury as a 74th-minute substitute in Celtic’s 7-0 win over St Johnstone last Saturday, after Giakoumakis went off early in the game with a minor injury in the same area.
The Greek striker is set to be the only Celtic absentee for Sunday’s Hampden encounter.
Postecoglou said: “With Giakoumakis, the prognosis wasn’t anything too serious. It will probably keep him out this weekend but we are pretty confident he will be available next weekend. David Turnbull trained and is fine, James Forrest trained and is fine as well.”
Japan forward Furuhashi had not played since Celtic’s previous meeting with St Johnstone on Boxing Day.
Postecoglou said: “I don’t think he is ready to play 90 or 120 (minutes) but he’s ready to play. He was back in and got some match minutes last weekend and he has had two solid weeks of training with the group.
“We train pretty hard and he has matched those levels so that means he is ready to play. Can he see out 90 or 120? Unlikely because he has been out for so long but he is ready to play and that’s the important thing.”
Furuhashi proved the difference in the Premier Sports Cup final in December, despite struggling with his hamstring even then, when he scored a double against Hibernian.
Fit-again Forrest netted the semi-final winner to add to a string of Hampden goals from the long-serving winger.
But Postecoglou hinted he would not be overly swayed by past Hampden displays with his four January signings looking for their debuts at the national stadium, including potential centre-forward Daizen Maeda.
“For me, coming into every game, and particularly in this part of the season, what’s important is that I keep a real close eye on training,” he said. “That’s usually the best indicator for me about guys who are ready to play.
“At the moment I have got a good and healthy list of players who are putting their hand up.
“I know people might think that’s difficult but if anything it’s easier because I’ve got options.
“The difficult bit comes when you’re going into big games and you are not really sure about the line-up you are going to put out there.
“I’m pretty confident that, whatever I decide at the weekend, we will have a strong enough team to do well in the game, and that’s because in training every day everyone is presenting well and working really hard and looking in good form.
“It’s easy for people to say I got my selection right but to be honest I could go a different way and get it just as right.”