Rangers fans might be holding out for hope of a Scottish Premiership miracle, but the quotes of Celtic midfielder Reo Hatate will be music to the ears of the club’s supporters.
The Japanese international was one of several Celtic players who looked dead on their feet in the final furlong of extra time in the Scottish Cup semi-final over the weekend whilst the Rangers team powered through 240 minutes in a matter of days.
The exhaustion of the Parkhead side caught plenty by surprise as Rangers overcame the odds to do two periods of extra time in two high intensity matches in a row.
Rangers landed a major blow on Celtic by beating their Old Firm rivals at Hampden to book a place in the Scottish Cup final and Gers fans are hoping it has bloodied the club’s nose.
All will become clear this weekend as Rangers travel to Motherwell and Celtic face a tough trip to Ross County but if the Gers needed any more encouragement they need only look at the latest from Reo Hatate.
Speaking to media in his home country of Japan, Reo Hatate has admitted that he is emotionally and physically exhausted as the season reaches its final furlong.
“Since my debut against Hibernian I’ve felt the intensity of the European game and played a number of games,” Reo Hatate told Sportiva.
“The fact that I’ve kept getting appearances shows that the team trusts in me and that’s given me a lot of confidence.
“But for what feels like the first time, I’m definitely feeling emotional and physical fatigue. It’s been three months since I arrived in Glasgow and getting used to a new environment on and off the pitch has been trial and error.
“In Japan there were ways I could refresh myself and take a mental break but that’s difficult when you’re playing so frequently.
“There are times when can’t make a run on goal, or hold back on the attack to preserve the team’s balance, and I have to recognise my fatigue.
“For the national team I had to go to Australia, then Japan, and back to Scotland. It was my first call-up as an overseas player and I was confronted with the difficulty of maintaining your condition while traveling and then immediately having to get results for your team.
“When you’re away from your team on national team duty there’s a chance you can lose your position.
Reo Hatate “saw two balls” in Celtic training
“My first day back at Celtic there was a moment that I saw two balls and was clearly jetlagged but in Europe you need to be tough enough to stay fit and fight for your position.
“So to start against Rangers gave me a lot of confidence. It was huge to be able to help create the equaliser.
“On the match sheet I didn’t score a goal or record an assist, but it was huge that I was able to leave my mark on the team’s victory.
“Daizen (Maeda) talked about how even though the team has been building on what it’s been doing, those of us who joined mid-season have added our own strength and helped push us into first place.
“I definitely feel tired but I want to keep doing whatever I can to help the team win the league, and I think I’ll become tougher and stronger as a result.”
These comments might not be Reo Hatate surrendering the title but for Rangers fans and anyone listening they given an insight into the feeling in the Celtic dressing room.
As Ross County hunt for a European spot, a positive result in Dingwall sets up that Old Firm clash at Celtic Park very nicely and Rangers fans will be hoping for a Scottish Premiership boost this weekend.
Meanwhile, the meltdown continues in the eastend as a local taxi driver puts an outspoken former Celtic star in his place.