Celtic boss Neil Lennon has stated that Jozo Simunovic isn’t a definite with regards to his availability for tonight.
The injury-prone centre-back missed the majority of the first half of the season. He only managed to play seven times before injuring his knee back in August (Transfermarkt).
However, he’s returned to feature in all three matches against Partick Thistle, Kilmarnock, and Ross County since the winter break ended. Incredibly, however, it looks as though he may have picked up another knock from Saturday’s game against the Staggies.
Speaking at his pre-match presser for the St Johnstone match, Lennon only provided a swift one-line comment on Simunovic (Celtic TV).
“We’re just waiting to see how Jozo Simunovic is. Apart from that, we’re more or less the same.”
A stark reminder as to why contract talks must be sensible
It’s frustrating, but the problem with Jozo is that you’re never too far away from another big injury knock. There’s not a lot he can do about it, with knee problems continuously blighting his Celtic career.
However, you just wonder how long Celtic are going to put up with these constant knocks. We need more from our first reserve at centre-back. Simunovic has now missed 100 games for the club since signing back in 2015. That’s pretty damning (Transfermarkt).
Yet it hasn’t stopped the manager from wanting to keep him at Parkhead for the long-term. Lennon stated earlier this week that Simunovic’s best years were ahead of him, and that he was someone he wanted to keep at the club (Scottish Sun).
But Celtic have to be sensible here. He’s been injured far too often, and nobody would be surprised if he was already suffering from his latest setback and missed the game tonight.
Hopefully that’s not the case. Simunovic has been through enough this season. The fact he’s also only a doubt suggests that there’s still a fair chance that whatever he’s picked up isn’t serious. It’s more that the County game was routine enough for him yet still he’s come out of it struggling.
Celtic can’t keep carrying passengers on the way to 10-in-a-row. Simunovic this season has been just that. He could seriously do with no more injury concerns between now and the end of the campaign if he wants that new deal.