Brendan Rodgers has backed Daizen Maeda to be the main man for Celtic this season.

The Japanese ace proved his worth as a centre forward on Wednesday as he bagged a hattrick against Yokohama F.Marinos in a pre-season friendly.

And the Hoops boss admits he sees the internationalist as a striker, and not as a winger.

The opportunity for Maeda to play through the middle came from Kyogo's absence, with Rodgers keen to build his fitness back up.

Rodgers said: “I thought Daizen was outstanding against Yokohama. I like him more through the middle. I think he does a good job on the side. But there is a reason he plays for Japan through the middle.

“I think his penetration and his movement is terrific. I was really impressed with his touch too, because I think he’s usually a player who is running away from the ball. But when he had to link the game and set the game I thought he was very good. And how he threatened their backline was excellent.

“On top of that his pressing is phenomenal. I like players at the top end who can really press the game and Daizen can definitely do that.

“Kyogo has obviously been brilliant for Celtic. But he’s still working his way to fitness. He’s had a bit of an issue with his shoulder, hence the reason he only came on (against Yokohama). But I thought Daizen was outstanding.

“There are parts of his game to develop but we don’t want him to be one who is running away from the ball. When defences are deep we need the front players to come off it, lay the ball off and get in the box. It’s an important aspect of football and I could see on Wednesday that Daizen could do that as he was excellent.

READ MORE: Kyogo Celtic injury 'issue' revealed by Brendan Rodgers

“It’s just about adding to players’ development. Daizen is still a young player who can improve. Of course, his strength is running in behind but sometimes there won’t always be that space. So can we develop his game and get him into areas he can work the defenders?

“But we could see from that 60 minutes against Yokohama he can do a bit of everything - and score goals. He’s a very honest player who will play anywhere for the team. He’s done a really job playing out wide. But when I look at his strengths he’s very much suited to playing central.”