Manchester United star Kagawa dropped for Bundesliga player in international friendly

Shinji Kagawa had to start from the bench against Holland today ... as Japan looked at other options .

Japan faced The Netherlands this afternoon, in yet another international friendly, and once again plenty of Premier League stars were on show in Genk.

The Dutch had Aston Villa defender Ron Vlaar playing as well as the likes of Nigel de Jong, Arjen Robben and Rafael van der Vaart - all of whom have previously graced the Premier League.

Japan had one Premier League player on show from the start - as Southampton defender Maya Yoshida started at centre back for the Samurai Blues.

However Manchester United talisman Shinji Kagawa was on the bench.

So what you might say? He will probably start against Belgium on Tuesday. You’re right, he might - in fact he probably will.

But then again he has started the last five Japan games - and has previously been considered an automatic starter, so his absence certainly has resonance.

He seemed to lose his place to FC Nurnberg playmaker Hiroshi Kiyotake - a summer target for Aston Villa if you recall.

Kagawa did get in on the action, in a game that eventually finished 2-2, coming on at half-time for Mokoto Hasebe.

But just like Javier Hernandez, once an undoubted starter that never missed the cut for his beloved Mexico, it appears that his troubles at finding first-team football at Old Trafford are now affecting his international credentials.

Kagawa has played just 258 minutes of league football this season compared to Kiyotake’s 956 - so there is no doubt which one is in the best state in regards to match fitness, and just why coach Alberto Zaccheroni decided to tell Kagawa to sit this one out on this occasion.

Kagawa has in the past lived off the good graces of the United faithful, who felt he was not given a fair crack of the whip, but he recently started against Arsenal and now has to stamp his claim on a first-team slot - leaving others in the cold and David Moyes in no doubt as to his talents.

Otherwise he might have to get used to a place on Zaccheroni’s bench.

image: © Marcel Sigg

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