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Sunday, March 24

Scottish Premiership

Celtic

Simunovic targets Celtic starting spot

PA | 5mo
The defender has made seven appearances this season.

Jozo Simunovic is hoping to reclaim his place in the Celtic side against Hibernian in the Ladbrokes Premiership on Saturday.

The 24-year-old defender replaced Filip Benkovic in the second half of the 6-0 win over St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park before the international break – his first appearance since recovering from  an ankle problem which had kept him out since August.

Simunovic is hopeful of again being involved against Hibs and expects a tough 90 minutes against Neil Lennon’s side who are sitting second in the table, two points behind Edinburgh rivals Hearts and one point ahead of the champions.

“I see the Hibs game as a big opportunity for me to impress the manager and earn a regular place in the starting XI,” Simunovic told the Celtic View. “But all I can do is work hard and try to improve every day.

“I’m sure it’ll be a good game. Hibs are always playing well and they make it difficult for opponents.

“They are different to many other teams in that they really want to play. We want the toughest tests, though, and this game comes at a good time because it we want to face good opponents before going into the Europa League game next week.

“I’m feeling fit. I felt fit coming into the last game and for sure, my fitness will be even better by the time the Hibs game comes around. Everything is up to the manager and what he decides.

“It doesn’t matter who plays because we have a big squad and everyone is capable of doing what the manager expects. It’s up to us in training to show that we are deserving of a place in the team.”

Celtic assistant Chris Davies is glad to have Croatian defenders Benkovic and Simunovic available and providing competition in defence, the on-loan  Leicester stopper returning against Saints after being out since the end of September.

“It’s great to have them back fit, strong and ready to play,” he said. “It’s important that we have a good pool of central defenders to pick from and they have to fight for their place.

“There are some good players there and that’s important because competition is healthy. Hopefully it keeps each of them at a high individual level.

“I’ve been impressed with Filip. We obviously did our work before he came in so we knew all about his qualities. He is very imposing with his size and he’s dominant aerially. He’s good attacking aerially as well, although he hasn’t scored a goal yet.

“He’s a big imposing figure and is technically good on the ball. He can play short and long passes with quality and is a defender who can defend with good aggression. Hopefully with momentum and playing games, that’ll get him really going.”



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2Manchester CityMan City30242479215874
3Tottenham HotspurSpurs30201957322561
4Arsenal30186663392460
5Manchester UnitedMan Utd30177658401858
6Chelsea30176750331757
7Wolverhampton WanderersWolves30128103836244
8Watford30127114244-243
9West Ham UnitedWest Ham31126134146-542
10Leicester CityLeicester31125144043-341
11Everton31117134342140
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13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle3198143140-935
14Crystal Palace3096153641-533
15Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton2996143242-1033
16Southampton3079143450-1630
17Burnley3186173559-2430
18Cardiff CityCardiff3084182757-3028
19Fulham3145222970-4117
20Huddersfield TownHuddersfield3135231857-3914
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Premier League Table
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1Liverpool31237170185276
2Manchester CityMan City30242479215874
3Tottenham HotspurSpurs30201957322561
4Arsenal30186663392460
5Manchester UnitedMan Utd30177658401858
6Chelsea30176750331757
7Wolverhampton WanderersWolves30128103836244
8Watford30127114244-243
9West Ham UnitedWest Ham31126134146-542
10Leicester CityLeicester31125144043-341
11Everton31117134342140
12Bournemouth31115154356-1338
13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle3198143140-935
14Crystal Palace3096153641-533
15Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton2996143242-1033
16Southampton3079143450-1630
17Burnley3186173559-2430
18Cardiff CityCardiff3084182757-3028
19Fulham3145222970-4117
20Huddersfield TownHuddersfield3135231857-3914
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