Celtic manager Neil Lennon wants to keep defender Jozo Simunovic at the club despite his record of knee problems, The Scottish Sun report.

The player has just returned from knee surgery that had kept him out of action since August.

Lennon has wasted no time in reintroducing the 25-year-old, playing him against Partick Thistle, Kilmarnock and Ross County, our first three matches after the winter break.

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The club have an option to extend his current deal beyond the end of this season, which is a decision that’s yet to be made.

However, Lennon has expressed a desire to keep the player, feeling he has plenty to offer despite his injury woes.

As quoted by The Scottish Sun, he said: “I’d like to keep him, I think he is a top player.

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“He is pretty consistent when he plays, and his best years are ahead of him.

 

“Jozo has a record of knee problems and that is unfortunate for him. But he manages it as best he can, and when he plays he is a consistent performer.”

Next few months are crucial

If Celtic are to commit to Simunovic’s future then he really needs to show he can be relied upon as the fixtures pile up and the pressure mounts.

Under Lennon he stepped up to the mark last season, forming a functional partnership with Kristoffer Ajer.

Now he needs to show he can either slot in well to a three-man defensive line or combine with Christopher Jullien effectively.

Celtic defender Jozo Simunovic

Celtic defender Jozo Simunovic / (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Taking part away to Kilmarnock on a plastic pitch last week was a big step in showing he isn’t someone who is going to sit out many of our games. The inability to play on that surface has plagued his progress in the past.

With just 10 appearances this season there are plenty of question marks surrounding Simunovic.

Hopefully, he does enough to earn another year at Celtic Park and earn another new contract that commits his peak years to the club.

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