Shaun Maloney was 24-years-old when he left Celtic for the first time. By then he was already known for both his talent and his susceptibility to injury. We accepted a £1m bid from Aston Villa for a player few of us thought would remain fit enough to make an impact in his career.
He retired 10 years later, having won an FA Cup and established his credentials in English football, although his play was regularly punctuated by various ailments.
Jozo Simunovic is currently a year older than Shaun was when he first left Celtic with a comparable injury record. He faces a small operation on his knee, which will hopefully see him return to action soon, but the harsh reality is that the remainder of his career is likely to be interrupted by spells on the treatment table.
I had difficulty believing rumours of interest in Jozo this summer for around £7m. When fit, he is worth that and more, but even Oldco’s knee specialist would fail Jozo at a fitness test.
I like the player. He is attentive, seeing movement before it becomes a danger and he is comfortable on the ball, seldom making mistakes. Despite regularly lacking games or training, he is never out of shape and manages to return to the team sharp and ready for action.
He has 21 months left on his contract, and there can be little doubt that a bid in the region of £7m would be accepted, but that’s not going to happen. I would persevere with him and offer a new contract.
There is every possibility that his career will extend for another nine years, as Shaun’s did. Jozo is not going to attract a contract that his ability would command on another frame, but there will hopefully be many years of value from him.