April 25, 2008: The last thing Yasuharu Sorimachi needs is another good wide player forcing his way into the reckoning for the Olympic squad.
But that's exactly what he's got in Hokuto Nakamura, whose career is back on track after one and half years of injury problems.
Sorimachi had a good look at the 22-year-old Fukuoka flyer in the Olympic trials on Wednesday, when Hokuto (everyone calls him by his given name) played in the second of two full-scale practice matches, against Omiya at NACK5.
It wasn't quite the Hokuto of old -- the dynamic, marauding right back from Avispa's last J1 campaign in 2006 -- but he still has three months to sharpen up before Beijing.
I asked Sorimachi specifically about Hokuto, who was one of my favourite young players in the J.League before he suffered that serious knee ligament injury in October 2006.
"He's not 100 per cent," Sorimachi replied. "He can do more, but his performance was not so bad."
Then there was a pause, before he added: "We have many good side players..."
At this stage, Hokuto is fourth in line for a place on the right flank, if Sorimachi plays 3-5-2, behind Uchida, Mizuno and now Nagatomo.
If the coach plays a back four, he would be third choice, behind Uchida and Nagatomo, and this is not nearly enough to win a spot in the 18-man squad, including two keepers.
It is a tall order for Hokuto, who played only three league games in 2007, but all he can do is keep going, build up his match fitness and hope for the best.
It was certainly good to see him back in action on Wednesday, at right back in a four-man defence, and Omiya's experienced left flank of Hato and Fujimoto gave him a good work-out.
As well as being a robust overlapping full back, he is also known as a strong man-marker. This has produced the nickname "Suppon" -- the Japanese snapping turtle that bites and won't let go.
In English football jargon we'd probably call him a terrier -- a tough little dog snapping at your heels and refusing to leave you alone.
Turtle or terrier, one thing's for sure: Hokuto will not let go of his Olympic hopes after forcing his way back into the picture when all seemed lost.