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BENKOVIC’S CELTIC TARGET

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FILIP BENKOVIC has revealed he is open to spending another season on loan at Celtic.

The Croatian Under-21 international central defender is due to return to Leicester City at the end of the month when his current deal expires.

Brendan Rodgers, who brought the 6ft-plus stopper to the Hoops last year, is now boss at the Midlands outfit after quitting Parkhead in February.

And the Irishman stated yesterday he could be willing to allow Benkovic to go back to his former club when he said: “Filip’s situation is one I’ll certainly look at. But there’s no doubt that if I want him to go out on loan again, I’d want him to go to Celtic.”

The impressive 21-year-old back-four operator, speaking to Croatian journal Sportske Novosti, said: “I read the comments from Brendan Rodgers.

“At the moment, I really do not know what will happen when my loan expires.

FLYING THE FLAG…Filip Benkovic pays tribute to Croatia after the League Cup Final win.

“I’ve spoken to the sports director at Leicester and he’s told me everyone at the club will soon sit down and decide what is best for me.

“When Brendan Rodgers left Celtic, he sent me a lot of nice words and told me he was very pleased with my performances.

“Whatever he decides, I will go along with. I have been really pleased with my season at Celtic. Of course, you can always do better, but I have played a lot of games at a very high level.

“Everyone at Celtic has told me they are happy with me.

“I have spoken to Neil Lennon. He told me that he would like me to stay at Celtic for another season.

“I must admit, when I first signed for Celtic, I didn’t expect it to be as good as it has been.

“During my time at Celtic, I have gained great experience. The Scottish Premiership is extremely intense and it was great playing in Europe. It’s helped me a lot.

“I believe this year has helped me prepare for the English Premier League.”

HOOP HOOP HOORAY…Filip Benkovic with the newly-won League Cup at Hampden in December.

Benkovic, who signed for the Midlands outfit from Dinamo Zagreb in a £17million switch last summer, added: “If we beat Hearts in the Scottish Cup Final, it will be the first time in history any club has won a treble treble. The fans would love that.

“We had a bit of a celebration after the Aberdeen match where we won the league. We had some fun, but we are waiting for this Final with Hearts.

“If we win that, we will have the biggest celebration. It’s been part of a great year for me.”

Benkovic was injured in the loss at Ibrox in December and has struggled for game-time this year since Neil Lennon replaced Rodgers.

He started the goalless draw against Livingston in Glasgow last month and has remained on the substitutes’ bench with the interim manager placing his faith in Jozo Simunovic and Kristoffer Ajer for the past five games.

However, he was a revelation at the start of the campaign when he broke into the team alongside Dedryck Boyata and won a League Cup medal beside the Belgian World Cup centre-half in the 1-0 triumph over Aberdeen at Hampden in December..

Benkovic has made 26 appearances and has scored two goals, one in the 5-0 romp against Cup Final opponents Hearts in November and the other against Dundee in a 3-0 win the following month.

 

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