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Celtic delighted to welcome back ‘the trigger’

After being missing for seven matches Celtic will welcome Daizen Maeda back for tomorrow’s match at home to Hearts.

To say that the hoops have been muted in his absence would be something of an understatement in the absence of the Japanese striker.

Mikey Johnston and Yang Hyun-Jun have both had their opportunities to impress but other than Johnston’s impact during the second half of the 3-1 win over St Johnstone there has been little threat down the flanks.

Luis Palma has retained his place, scoring some goals but although playing out wide he isn’t a winger in the traditional sense and is a very different type of player to Maeda.

Often it takes a player to be missing for their value to be recognised but even on an off day you still get a 110% from Maeda, if he isn’t doing damage going forward he is at least offering cover defensively.

With 15 points to play for before the winter break John Kennedy is looking forward to ‘the trigger’ returning to action.

10 minutes 30 seconds

QUESTION: Can I ask you about Daizen Maeda who has been out for five or six weeks? How important is he to the way Celtic want to play with the speed, energy, and pressing as well?

He is important. The team has been a bit interrupted with injuries but the guys who have maybe been on the fringes have come in and done a good job. Carter-Vickers is a really good player.

Reo has missed the last chunk of the season and Abada has missed most of the season. They are all really important players for us and they contribute a lot and they have done.

Going back to Daizen he is the trigger for a lot of that in terms of our intensity. The game we want to play relies on us keeping the intensity levels as high as we can and Daizen’s energy triggers a lot of that for us, in terms of shutting down the time teams get to set up attacks.

Even if a team want to play direct he can get to the ball without them playing accurate long balls. On the flip side of that he attacks the back line and penetrates any kind of space that the opposition leaves.

Having speed in our team is important. It is an important aspect. When he is not there you recognise that. To be fair, he is an absolute machine and I think he wanted to get involved before now but we had to put the reins on him a touch because he still had a bit of an injury going on. He’s a great lad. He has a terrific work rate and he is a very important player for us.

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