Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou was able to start Kyogo Furuhashi against Rangers after Giorgos Giakoumakis was all but ruled out in the Scottish Cup semi-finals.
Uruhashi made his comeback from a hamstring injury as a 74th-minute substitute in Celtic’s 7-0 win against St Johnstone last Saturday after Giakoumakis was substituted early in the game with a minor injury in the same area.
The Greek striker will be the only Celtic striker absent from Hampden on Sunday.
Postecoglou said: “For Giakoumakis, the prognosis wasn’t too serious. It’ll likely keep him away this weekend, but we’re pretty confident he’ll be available next weekend. David Turnbull has been training and is fine, James Forrest has been training and is fine.”
Japan striker Furuhashi had not played since Celtic’s last clash with St Johnstone on Boxing Day.
Postecoglou said: “I don’t think he’s ready to play 90 or 120 (minutes) but he’s ready to play. He was back and got some minutes of play last weekend and he’s had two solid weeks of training with the group.
“We’re training pretty hard and he’s reached that level, which means he’s ready to play. Can he see 90 or 120? Unlikely because he’s been out so long, but he’s ready to play and that’s the most important thing.”
Furuhashi proved the difference in the Premier Sports Cup final in December, although he was already struggling with his Achilles tendon when he scored a brace against Hibernian.
The fit Forrest struck the semi-final winner and complemented a string of Hampden goals from the longtime winger.
But Postecoglou hinted he wouldn’t be too swayed by past Hampden appearances as his four January signings are all looking to make their debuts at the National Stadium, including potential centre-forward Daizen Maeda.
“It’s important for me to keep a close eye on training in every game and especially this part of the season,” he said. “That’s usually the best indicator for me of guys who are ready to play.
“Right now I have a good and healthy list of players raising their hands.
“I know people think this is difficult, but if anything it’s easier because I have options.
“The hard part comes when you go into big games and you’re not really sure what lineup you’re going to put out there.
“I’m pretty confident that no matter what I decide at the weekend we’ll have a squad strong enough to do well in the game and that’s because in training every day everyone is showing up well and really hard work and look in good shape.
“It’s easy for people to say I made my choice right, but to be honest, I could go a different route and make it just as well.”
https://www.independent.ie/sport/soccer/other-soccer/celtics-kyogo-furuhashi-set-for-old-firm-cup-semi-final-start-after-giorgos-giakoumakis-injury-41557118.html Celtic’s Kyogo Furuhashi is set to face the start of the Old Firm Cup semifinals after injuring Giorgos Giakoumakis