Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou countered claims that the standard of the cinch Premiership should impact international selections after the level of the league was cited in Reo Hatate and Kyogo Furuhashi’s Japan omissions.
Both players were again left out of the Japan squad for upcoming friendlies and head coach Hajime Moriyasu was quoted as saying he had taken the level of the league into account along with his desire to try out other players.
Celtic attacker Daizen Maeda has been selected for Japan’s games against Colombia and Uruguay after scoring in the World Cup finals but Hatate and Furuhashi have been among the club’s star men in recent months.
Furuhashi has already scored 26 goals this season while Hatate has stepped up his scoring and assist rate since the mid-season break.
When asked about their exclusions and whether Moriyasu’s comments were disrespectful, Postecoglou said: “Both boys are playing really well and it’s disappointing for them that they haven’t been selected, but that’s the nature of international football. It comes down to the national team manager’s decisions.
“In terms of disrespectful, it’s one person’s opinion. I’m not really sure we should make too many far-reaching conclusions.
“If you come here next week you’ll probably find that we don’t have many players training. The reason for that is they’re away at international football.
“We had five players at the World Cup who did okay, better than okay. We’ve had Josip Juranovic and Moritz Jenz leave our football club and are playing regularly in the Bundesliga, which is a top-five league.
“Now unless once they enter those clubs they magically become better footballers, I’d suggest the selection of individual footballers doesn’t come down to the level of the league.
“There have been plenty of players who have left this league and gone to the biggest leagues in the world and have performed really well and there are plenty of players in the Scottish Premiership who have done extremely well at international level, and plenty of players who have come from top-five leagues who have struggled in the Premiership.
“One man’s opinion doesn’t mean it’s wrong but doesn’t mean that’s the case either.”
Postecoglou backed both players to bounce back from the blow.
“There wouldn’t be many greater disappointments than missing selection for a World Cup and, if you look at the way the two lads have responded to that, they are playing football better than ever,” he said.
“They are both really determined young men and they are going to get to the top of the game one way or another.
“Whatever challenges they have in front of them I am sure they will overcome and my role is to to try and help them do that.”
Scotland left-back Greg Taylor and United States defender Cameron Carter-Vickers were also left out of their respective international squads but underlying fitness issues contributed to those decisions.
Postecoglou said: “We provide all the relevant information to the international teams then it’s up to them to decide whether they call the players up or not, but from our perspective Greg’s available and will play (on Saturday). It’s the same with Cameron.
“It’s up to the international manager and their medical team to decide whether they call them up or they decide to leave them this time for rehab purposes.
“I wouldn’t read too much into it, both will play on Saturday. All players have some issues here and there at different times and we manage them as best we can.”
Aaron Mooy will miss the visit of Hibernian but could still be asked to report for Australia duty.
Postecoglou said: “Aaron Mooy will miss out, he has been a bit sore the last couple of weeks and probably won’t be able to get up for this weekend. And Tomoki Iwata got a bit of a back strain and couldn’t train.
“At a push both could have played but with a two-week break we have decided to leave them out.
“But Daizen Maeda is back and Carl Starfelt, who went off at half-time (against Hearts), is fine as well.”