Brendan Rodgers’ 4 midfield options to replace Reo Hatate

Brendan Rodgers announced in yesterday’s pre-match press conference that Reo Hatate will be out for a few weeks with a hamstring injury he sustained in Wednesday evening’s Champions League encounter with Diego Simeone’s Atlético Madrid side.

Rodgers stated that it was a “bad one”, and with Hatate just getting back to his best and building up match sharpness, this dealt a massive blow to what is arguably Celtic’s strongest area of the park.

Such adversity often provides a massive opportunity for one of the players on Celtic’s fringes to step into the team and make an impact on the starting XI.



Brendan Rodgers has some options to choose from in the midfield area, but who will be the player to step up in Hatate’s absence?

Paulo Bernardo

Game-time has been limited for the Portuguese midfielder since he signed on loan from Benfica, but the injury to Hatate may have opened the door for fans to finally see the full picture as to how good the 21-year-old actually is. He has featured regularly for the Portugal Under-21s since his arrival, even scoring in the most recent international break.

Bernardo was the player called upon to replace Hatate when he suffered that injury on Wednesday night, and he will be the front-runner to try and make that position his own with the Japanese midfielder out for an, as yet, unspecified length of time.

If the rumoured option-to-buy fee is similar to the £6.5million Celtic paid for Jota, Bernardo has a lot to prove if he is to justify that price tag, and he could now be handed the opportunity to do just that.

David Turnbull

Turnbull was the preferred option for that advanced midfielder position in the early stages of the season, and he started well with a brace and man-of-the-match performance on the opening day against Ross County.

The Scottish midfielder followed this impressive display up with a lacklustre showing against Aberdeen at Pittodrie, resulting in him being withdrawn from the action at half-time. Since then, Turnbull has struggled to really maintain a starting role in the Celtic midfield, only seeing opportunities arise whilst Hatate was nursing an initial injury he picked up in that same game at Pittodrie.

The 24-year-old still has a point to prove to Celtic supporters, but he will need to raise his game if he is the man chosen to fill the void left by the Japanese playmaker’s injury.


Odin Thiago Holm

The Norwegian has only had five minutes on the field since his dismissal against Feyenoord in Rotterdam in the opening game of Celtic’s Champions League group stage campaign. That five minutes came as a substitute in a 3-1 home win over Kilmarnock before the international break.

He was impressive in the early stages of the season, whilst still clearly a raw talent, performing well in substitute appearances at Pittodrie as well as at Ibrox, helping win back possession and turn defence into attack time and time again.

At just 20 years of age, there is plenty of room to improve the Norwegian Under-21 international, and Rodgers is clearly a fan of the midfielder, as he has previously stated that he is a “fantastic young player’.

The injury to Hatate could open the door for Holm to showcase his potential more often.

Tomoki Iwata

Celtic bought the utility man when he was Japanese football’s Most Valuable Player.

Unfortunately, his career in Glasgow has never really kicked on since Ange Postecoglou brought him to the club.

He has been deployed at right-back and centre-back already by Brendan Rodgers, but showed at Tynecastle that he is undoubtedly more effective in the holding midfield role.

Will Rodgers give Iwata the nod, whilst pushing Callum McGregor into the number 8 position? Iwata would certainly be deserving of the chance.


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