There were three candidates for the accolade of The Celtic Way’s ‘Star Man’, including two players that were key in Celtic making the breakthrough at Livingston.

Indeed, Nicolas Kuhn and Reo Hatate linked up well in the make-up of the visitors’ first goal on Easter Sunday, with both putting in good performances that may have secured their starting berth in seven days’ time. Though these two were perhaps the most eye-catching in terms of overall performance, there was one player that has gone under the radar ever so slightly from yesterday’s display, which makes him an ideal candidate for this week’s award.

The winner of TCW’s ‘Star Man’ is none other than Tomoki Iwata, who played as the deepest midfielder in an engine room that contained both the aforementioned Hatate and Matt O’Riley, who managed both a goal and an assist in the second half. Not flashy by any means, Celtic’s number 24 played a vital role in ensuring that his side’s control in the middle of the park was never lost in proceedings.

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Iwata has been a player that many have been waiting to see be given a run in the team, which - due to the injury to captain Callum McGregor – has taken place over the past month or so. An individual who is not afraid to put in the hard yards on the defensive side of things, the former Yokohama F Marinos man is a safe pair of hands – and feet – in the middle of Brendan Rodgers’ evolving midfield setup. You can tell that the manager trusts Iwata, especially when he started him versus Livingston last month, even after his below-par performance against Hearts at Tynecastle.

Speaking of the midfield, this important area on the park looks more solid thanks to the inclusion of Iwata. A selfless individual who grafts for the team rather than for himself, Livingston failed to get any joy from the reliable midfielder when he was in possession of the ball. The highlight of his game individually was a clean interception from a developing Livingston attack, in which he looked to be the underdog. In reading the situation, he was able to dispossess his marker, and in doing so started an attack for his own team.

He is – admittedly – a safe passer who excels at doing the basics when on the ball, but this is to the advantage of the players situated in front of him, too. Look at Hatate and O’Riley, for example, who both were key to everything good from an attacking standpoint yesterday. Iwata knows that these players are probably more technically gifted than himself when it comes to chance creation, so he allows them to roam forward and do their own thing, staying back as cover for the defence in the process.

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It is his defensive and positional maturity that tends to stand out in matches. In the prime of his career at 26 – he turns 27 on Sunday – Iwata seems extremely comfortable both in his own skin and his own game, which makes the midfield a much more solid place to operate. Of course, the imminent return of the captain may throw a spanner in all of this accumulated good work from the midfielder, as McGregor will likely stroll back into this side for Ibrox. With Hatate back from injury and O’Riley seemingly in a good place form-wise, it may mean that Iwata has to make do with a bench spot on his birthday, despite his good form.

Still, despite the good performances from Celtic’s many beacons of creativity, it was Iwata that left the biggest lasting impression on me. Regardless of if he starts the next game or not, the steady midfielder has proven that he is a dependable and efficient operator, who understands the assignment whenever he steps onto the football park.