Ange Postecoglou clarified that the choice to keep Yuki Kobayashi on the sidelines this weekend wasn’t a result of his subpar performance against Rangers the previous week.

The Japanese defender, had a tough game at Ibrox where they suffered a 3-0 defeat, with him culpable for two conceded goals.

However, Postecoglou made it clear that his decision to field Tomoki Iwata as a central defender in the St Mirren game was merely a move to provide him with more playing time, not a consequence of Kobayashi’s previous performance.

In an interview with BBC Sportsound, he stated: “The trio of games this week presents a chance for us to prepare for the upcoming significant cup final. We aim to ensure maximum playing time for as many players as possible during this period.

Soccer Football – Scottish Premiership – Celtic v Livingston – Celtic Park, Glasgow, Scotland, Britain – December 21, 2022 New Celtic signings Yuki Kobayashi and Alistair Johnston pose before the match REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

“We also strive to ensure that the team is in top shape heading into this significant game. Tomoki Iwata will be positioned as a central defender. He has prior experience in this role with his former club, and I’ve utilided him in this position before.

“It’s crucial to give him this opportunity. Yuki played last week, and we have a midweek game, so our goal is to rotate the squad and get as many players game time.”

When asked again if Kobayashi was benched because of his poor performance against The Rangers, Ange reaffirmed: “As I mentioned before, we weren’t at our peak last week, but such occurrences are part of the game. We are focusing on a major game and aim to put in a strong performance today.”

Iwata didn’t cover himself in glory against St Mirren and lacked the strength needed for the position.


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