• Kyodo


Japan midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura celebrated his return from injury with a goal as holders Celtic thrashed Stirling Albion 3-0 to ease into the fifth round of the Scottish FA Cup on Sunday.

Playing his first competitive game after a two-and-a-half-month layoff with a knee injury, Nakamura wrapped up victory by firing the third goal after Dutch striker Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink and Australian forward Scott McDonald had put the Hoops in control.

Recent press reports have linked Nakamura with a move back to his former Japanese club, Yokohama F. Marinos, and the playmaker admitted that he would like to finish his career in Japan, though he stopped short of commenting on when he would return home.

“I want to return to Japan one day,” Nakamura said. “I won’t finish my playing days overseas. . .obviously (F. Marinos) are the club I grew up at.”

Meanwhile, Nakamura indicated he thinks JEF United Chiba midfielder Koki Mizuno, who is set to join Celtic after obtaining a work permit, has what it takes to make the grade at Parkhead but will need time to settle in.

“I think he (Mizuno) can train with the first team. However, he is still young and I think it will take him some time to settle in and get accustomed to things.”

Mizuno on Sunday returned to Japan after trip to Glasgow to check out the home of the Scottish giants.

“The facilities and environment are good for playing soccer in,” said Mizuno. “I couldn’t speak directly in English to the team officials but I was made to feel welcome.”

Mizuno has been granted a special work permit by British government officials, even though he has not met the standard required to qualify for an employment visa.

Normally, a player from a non-European Union country needs to have played at least 75 percent of his country’s international matches in the previous two years to acquire a work visa.

Mizuno played a pivotal role in helping Japan win a berth in August’s Beijing Olympics.

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