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Hatate steps up his comeback with 45 minutes

Reo Hatate has stepped up his recovery from injury by playing for 45 minutes in a bounce game at Lennoxtown today.

A 2-2 draw with St Mirren is incidental as the midfielder completes the final stages of his rehab after returning from the Asian Cup in January with injuries to both calf’s.

At the end of October Hatate suffered a serious hamstring strain in a Champions League match against Atletico Madrid, he returned to play for 20 minutes off the bench against St Mirren on January 2 before being waved off to the Asian Cup.

Brendan Rodgers has barely had the chance to work with the Japanese midfielder but if all goes well the 26-year-old could be ready for a key role in the run-in to the season.

Briefly covering today’s match The Sun reports:

REO HATATE handed Celtic a huge title boost by playing 45 minutes in a bounce game today.

The Japanese midfielder, 26, got a half as a Hoops side drew 2-2 with St Mirren at Lennoxtown.

He hasn’t played since the winter break after injuring both calves during the Asian Cup in January.

Celtic medics will check to ensure Hatate has no reaction from the run-out against the Buddies.

After a year dogged by hamstring and calf muscles Celtic will be carefully monitoring Hatate for any reaction from today’s match.

Celtic’s next fixtures are on the plastic at the Toni Macaroni Arena on March 31 followed by the critical SPFL visit to Ibrox one week later. Neither fixture is the type to ease someone back into after a lengthy lay off from injury.

A starting place at home to St Mirren, them again, on April 13 is probably the more realistic target for Hatate with the Scottish Cup semi-final against Aberdeen following a week later.

In the early months of 2023 Hatate hit top form alongside Callum McGregor and Aaron Mooy, forcing Matt O’Riley onto the bench while still playing a key role in the treble success under Ange Postecoglou.

Only O’Riley has been available in recent weeks, if Hatate and McGregor can be restored to full fitness Celtic’s chances of success will be greatly increased.

CLICK HERE for reaction to the Crawford Allan rumours.

CLICK HERE for Reo Hatate appearances this season.

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