CRAIG GORDON has urged Celtic fans not to call Jozo Simunovic the new Virgil van Dijk.
The international keeper believes the Croatian centre-back will prove to be an excellent buy for the club at £4.4million from Dinamo Zagreb in the summer.
Injury has disrupted the 21-year-old’s progress in the Hoops, but he has looked solid, uncompromising and commanding when he has been in the team and appears to bring out the best in fellow-New Bhoy Dedryck Boyata.
However, Gordon doesn’t think it is fair to compare him with the Dutchman who was sold to Southampton for a record £13million in August.
The 32-year-old shotstopper said: “Simunovic and Boyata have done well and, in the last few games together, have looked solid. The communication is coming on and I thought we looked a lot more solid against Kilmarnock.
“We coped pretty much with everything that was thrown at us. We restricted them to a couple of shots. To cope with Josh Magennis, who is a handful, and earn a clean sheet is one highlight we can take from it.
”I think Jozo’s a good player and a good signing. He’s so quick and you can see that when he gets back in to make some great recovery tackles. It’s a great attribute for a defender.
“He has got everything and he’s still a young boy. In training, he looks a solid defender and can be a good player for us.
“I think he can effectively replace Virgil. You will never get another like Virgil, who could also stick a free-kick in the top corner. He was a bit of a one-off.
“But Jozo can take the ball into the next third and play a pass and he’s quick, just as Virgil was for us. He’s strong in the tackle and decent in the air and, over time, he could be a very big player for us.”
Simunovic is likely to be in position when Ajax turn up at Parkhead for the must-win Europa League clash on Thursday.
Unfortunately, he lasted only a handful of minutes in the last European tie and the lack of his defensive presence was highlighted when Molde won 2-1. Many supporters at the match reckoned that Molde cynically targeted Simunovic’s injured angle.
Perhaps Ronny should keep the injury updates to a minimum rather than allowing this type of thing to happen again.
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