Kenny Dalglish believes the availability of top scorer Kyogo Furuhashi will give Celtic an extra psychological edge ahead of Sunday’s Scottish Cup semi-final with Rangers.
The Hoops are deemed favourites by many for the Hampden showdown after beating their city rivals 2-1 at Ibrox a week last Sunday to move six points clear at the top of the cinch Premiership.
The only negative development for Celtic in the build-up is that striker Giorgos Giakoumakis looks set to miss out with a hamstring problem.
But former striker Dalglish feels the return from injury of 16-goal Kyogo – who made his first appearance of 2022 as substitute in Saturday’s 7-0 win over St Johnstone – will make Rangers wary.
“Even if Kyogo doesn’t start he’s a hell of a substitute to bring on,” said Dalglish. “If Celtic fall behind then he’s great man to bring on.
“If Rangers see him stripping off and getting ready to come on for the last 20 minutes or half an hour, you’re not going to be too comfortable are you?
“Kyogo was brilliant at the beginning of the season and even in the first Old Firm game which Rangers won he was through three times on Allan McGregor who had to make big saves. His movement and pace is good.”
Dalglish insists whatever happens on Sunday is unlikely to have any bearing on the outcome of the title race, with Celtic six points clear with five games to play.
“I don’t think it’ll affect what happens with the league campaign,” he said.
“That’s 100 per cent in Celtic’s hands and there’s one Old Firm game to come (in the Premiership). If they come through that then it’s almost done and dusted for them, isn’t it?
“You can tell by the way they went about their job at the weekend, beating St Johnstone 7-0, that they want to make sure they finish it off.
“I don’t think it’ll give you any insight into anything that’s going to happen in the league, this is solely for the cup. Whoever wins it will look forward to going through.
“I would think there’s more pressure on Rangers to win it.”
Dalglish feels everyone involved with treble-chasing Celtic deserves credit for the spectacular turnaround in fortunes since Ange Postecoglou took over last summer at the end of a campaign in which they finished 25 points adrift of Rangers.
“At the beginning there was a bit of grumbling but you’ve got to be fair to the people who put him in place,” Dalglish said. “They’re the ones who stood by him and been patient.
“Ange had an idea of what he wanted and what market he wanted to buy in because he knew it best. They stood by him and the people that he’s brought in have been really successful until now.
“I think everybody deserves praise. The club have to have the patience, he has to have the know-how and the people coming in have reacted positively to what he wants to do.
“You see the seven goals on Saturday were all scored by new signings.
“They got off to a bad start but it’s been some turnaround. I think everybody deserves a bit of credit.”
Kenny Dalglish was promoting exclusively live Premier Sports coverage of Celtic v Rangers this Sunday from 1pm. Premier Sports is available on Sky, Virgin TV and the Premier Player from £9.99 per month, and on Amazon Prime as an add-on subscription.”
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