Hearts forward Yutaro Oda is on Japan's international radar despite a recent setback
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The 21-year-old would have been named in the Japanese Under-22 squad for friendly matches over the next few days, however a recent foot injury sustained on club duty ruled him out.
Hearts sent the player for a scan after he was forced off against Celtic two weeks ago. It confirmed no serious damage but bruising on the area prevented Oda travelling to represent his country.
Japan Under-22s face their German counterparts in Frankfurt today before taking on Belgium Under-22s in Murcia on Tuesday. Coach Go Oiwa wanted Oda in the squad and representatives from the Japanese Football Association consulted Hearts officials about his availability. He was ruled out on this occasion but will continue to be monitored for the rest of this season and into next.
Oda has played for Japan at under-15, under-16, under-17, under-18 and under-19 level. Technical staff Shigeyuki Ochi and Hideaki Watanabe will keep an eye on him as he seeks to cement a regular place in the starting line-up at Tynecastle Park.
He joined from Vissel Kobe in January and has managed six appearances in maroon to date – one in the starting line-up and five as a substitute. Hearts opted not to risk him for last weekend’s trip to Pittodrie due to the foot injury and will help him recuperate fully during the international break.
He should then be fit to return when the Premiership resumes at the start of April. Hearts travel to Kilmarnock next Saturday, April 1, looking to recapture top form after four defeats in their last five games.