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PROBLEM PILE-UP: NO GO JOZO

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JOZO SIMUNOVIC is ready to pull out of Celtic’s Europa League opener against Rennes in France a week tonight.

The Croatian centre-half, who missed the 4-1 play-off victory over AIK in Stockholm and the 2-0 success at Ibrox, is lined up for more checks on a persistent knee problem.

Simunovic, 25, is sidelined for Saturday’s midday Premiership encounter at Hamilton and will not travel for the Group E tie.

Neil Lennon faces a problem pile-up in central defence with Nir Bitton, who was forced to come off in 66 minutes in the triumph over Steven Gerrard’s outfit, struggling with a hamstring injury. The Isreali could be sidelined for two to three weeks.

SLIDE IN TIME…Hatem Abd Elhamed nicks the ball away from Jermain Defoe.

Kristoffer Ajer, too, is battling for fitness after coming off with a groin strain after only 17 minutes in Stockholm and wasn’t considered by the Hoops boss for the Ibrox confrontation.

Lennon could turn to versatile Hatem Abd Elhamed for the forthcoming games against Accies and the French Cup winners.

The Israeli played centre-back on several occasions for Hapoel Be’er Sheva and could get the nod to partner £7million Frenchman Christopher Jullien in the middle of the rearguard.

That would free on-loan Moritz Bauer to play at right-back following his brief debut as Bitton’s replacement in Govan.

To add to Lennon’s woes, winger Mikey Johnston is also out of the weekend game and will be a doubt in France.

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