JOZO SIMUNOVIC missed Celtic’s NINTH successive triumph of 2020 with a hamstring strain, boss Neil Lennon has revealed.

The Croatian central defender, who scored in the 5-0 midweek victory over Hearts at Parkhead, was nowhere to be seen as the Hoops overcame Aberdeen 2-1 at Pittodrie yesterday.

Simunovic’s absence opened the door for Nir Bitton to make his first appearance since limping off with a groin strain in the 2-1 Scottish Cup triumph over Partick Thistle at Firhill on January 18.

Lennon admitted his absence was a precautionary measure as he didn’t want to risk the back-four operator.

The player will now be examined over the next few days, but is hopeful he will be fit for the first leg of their Europa League last-32 clash against Copenhagen in the Danish capital on Thursday night.

Lennon, speaking to the Daily Record, said: “He felt a twinge in his hamstring. He felt he could maybe play, but was worried he might rip it if he did. We will assess him over the next couple of days, but, hopefully, it’s not too bad.

“It’s difficult for Jozo to play three games in a week, so we are hopeful he will be alright for Thursday.”

Celtic are also sweating over the fitness of Greg Taylor for the Euro confrontation. The Scotland international left-back limped off after only 25 minutes of the game at Pittodrie.

Jonny Hayes replaced him against the Dons and is standing by again for the game against the Danes.

Lennon also has Belgian Boli Bolingoli available.


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