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NEW BALL GAME FOR JOZO

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JOZO SIMUNOVIC sat out the disappointing 3-1 Europa League Group B loss against RB Salzburg in October – but reckons the Austrians will see the REAL Celtic at Parkhead on Thursday night.

The Croatian central defender was an unused substitute as the Hoops surrendered a second-minute advantage from Odsonne Edouard after the interval.

It was an evening to forget for the Scottish champions who also finished with only 10 men following James Forrest’s red card.

However, Simunovic warned: “It will be a completely different game this time and, for sure, it’s nice to have Broony back, no doubt about that – he’s the legend of this club.

“But the gaffer will still put the team on the park which he thinks is right, and those of us who are playing will want to win.”

That could mean Scott Brown starting on the bench with Callum McGregor in the anchorman role with Tom Rogic and Ryan Christie for company in the middle of the park.

Simunovic could also be in at the start with Dedryck Boyata still struggling with the hamstring injury he sustained in the 1-0 Betfred League Cup Final triumph over Aberdeen nine days ago.

DEFENSIVE GIANT…Filip Benkovic has become a Celtic fans’ favourite. Pic; Geo.

Kristoffer Ajer, following his fractured eye socket injury in the goalless draw with Livingston last month, is also short of 100 per cent match fitness.

Rodgers is likely to give the nod to Simunovic and his fellow-countryman Filip Benkovic to try to curb the menace of Israeli frontman Munas Dabbur who netted twice in Austria.

The 24-year-old centre-back said: “Benko’s a quality player and we know each other really well, so we just need more games to get ourselves more compact, get our understanding better, but that will come for sure.

“We’ll also study the video and know all about their players – they definitely have quality. But although Dabbur  scored two against us last time, again we can’t compare the game over there to the one on our field.

“It won’t be the same game.”

Rodgers’ men require one point against Salzburg, who have already qualified following five wins out of five.

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