CELTIC could be handed a major boost for their key fixtures after the winter break after Japanese FA chief Kozo Tashima revealed they will accept any decision that could ban their foreign-based stars, including Kyogo Furuhashi, from playing in two key World Cup qualifiers.

Furuhashi had looked set to miss Celtic's crunch matches at Tynecastle against Hearts and at home to Dundee United after the winter break in January.

Japan have two crunch World Cup qualifiers against China and Saudi Arabia at home at the end of January as they battle to get to the Qatar finals. They have also just organised a friendly against Uzbekistan in the week leading up to the first game.
However, Japan has now closed its borders because of concerns over the spread of the new Omicron variant of Covid.

And JFA president Tashima has revealed he will play the matches with only Japanese-based players if their government refuses to allow any of their foreign-based stars to travel to the game.

He said: "We will comply with whatever the wishes of the government are for these World Cup matches. If we are not allowed to use our European-based players, then we will use the domestic players instead.

"It's too early to confirm what restrictions will be in place by then at this stage."

Celtic will also lose Tom Rogic and Hibs will be without talisman Martin Boyle because Australia also has two World Cup qualifiers at the same time against Vietnam and Oman.

However, FIFA may have to rethink these fixtures if there are more severe travel restrictions imposed by then.