ANGE POSTECOGLOU has defended Celtic striker Kyogo from accusations of play-acting, hitting back at ‘courageous, couch-sitting observers’ for their criticism of his player.

The likes of former English Premier League referee Keith Hackett and former Rangers captain Barry Ferguson have weighed in on Kyogo’s alleged antics after footage emerged of the forward going to ground under slight contact from John Souttar in Celtic’s recent win over Hearts.

There was also criticism of the Japan international when he won a last minute penalty against Livingston at Celtic Park by going down after Ayo Obileye had slapped him on the back of the head.

But Postecoglou said that there is an agenda-driven narrative being formed around his striker when he was asked about such comments.

“How do I answer this question now?,” said Postecoglou.

“It always amuses me when I hear these big, brave warriors sitting on the sidelines judging guys like Kyogo - who’s literally built like a jockey playing against guys who are six foot three - questioning his bravery or his courage in playing the game.

“Look, I haven’t followed that narrative and it’s not something I would be interested in having meaningful discussion [about] because it virtually is centred around ignorance and probably having an agenda. So I’m not going to go down that track.

“What I will say is I would be very surprised if any people who love football, irrespective of who they support, don’t think Kyogo is great for this competition. He is certainly great for our football club; our supporters love him, which is the most important thing, even for the competition.

“He’s exciting to watch. I thought he was outstanding at the weekend, even if he didn’t score. He’s trying to improve every day.

“He’s a great guy to have around, he’s an absolute gentleman and beyond that I’m not brave enough to take on all these others big courageous, couch-sitting, observers of the game, mate.”

Postecoglou says that Kyogo is fully aware that he will come in for physical attention from defenders, but that he relishes such a challenge.

“I’m sure the opposition will try to stop him,” he said.

“But I’d like to think they’re doing that in legal ways. Kyogo doesn’t expect to go out there and not get marked or not get attention, physical or otherwise. So that’s no issue. I’m sure he’s had that already, mate.

“I don’t think people have been ignoring him since day one. I mean, you can’t ignore him because the first game he played in Europe he scored a goal.

“But that’s not an issue. This is not an on-field issue. This is an issue brought about by people who aren’t actually out there.

“So for me it’s a non-issue.”

Meanwhile, Postecoglou was pleased to see Dundee United midfielder Calum Butcher being charged by the Scottish Football Association for his wild tackle on Celtic’s David Turnbull in Sunday’s match at Tannadice.

Butcher was shown a yellow card for the offence at the time by referee Don Robertson, but he will now face a fast-track tribunal hearing today after being cited by SFA compliance officer Andrew Phillips.

“I think it’s been addressed, which is the right thing to do,” he said. “I think it’s a simple clear-cut case.

“My view on these things has always been - and you guys will know this - that I don’t go in after games and highlight things.

“Things that need to get addressed are addressed, and this is being addressed.

“The authorities will see with it as they see fit.”