JOSIP JURANOVIC may not play for Celtic again this year.

The Croatia right-back will still be in Qatar on Saturday when the champions face Aberdeen at Pittodrie when the Premiership restarts after the World Cup break.

Juranovic and his international team-mates will be involved in the soccer showpiece third place play-off against the losers of tonight’s semi-final between France and Morocco.

UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL…Josip Juranovic challenges Argentina superstar Lionel Messi in Croatia’s 3-0 World Cup semi-final loss in Qatar last night.

Croatia’s bold bid to reach a second consectuve grand finale in the global extravaganza – they lost 4-2 to the French in 2018 – crashed 3-0 against Lionel Messi-inspired Argentina last night where the little superstar fired in the opening goal from the penalty spot and Julian Alverez claimed the other two.

Juranovic, in fact, will know the Celtic score when he lines up in Qatar at the weekend. The Hoops kick off against the Dons at 12.30pm in the live Sky presentation while Croatia will commence at 3pm UK time.

The 27-year-old defender will not be rushed back from his exertions on the world’s biggest stage when Ange Postecoglou’s side take on Livingston at Parkhead a week tonight.

Similarly, Juranovic could also miss out on the home game against St Johnstone on Christmas Eve and the trip to Hibs at Easter Road four days later.

That would mean the dependable back-four operator returning to club action in the Glasgow derby at Ibrox on January 2 2023.

How long the £2.5million signing from Legia Warsaw in August 2021 remains at Parkhead after that is open to conjecture.

JOY BHOYS…Josip Juranovic and his Celtic team-mates Callum McGregor and Matt O’Riley are all smiles as they celebrate another win in their quest for a second successive title.

Juranovic enhanced his transfer value greatly with his displays in the Middle East – especially with his performance against Brazil’s Vinicius Junior in the quarter-final penalty-kick success – and values in the £25million region have already been mentioned.

Barcelona have been linked with the consistent full-back and Serie A outfit Torino are reported to have already made contact with the Hoops hierarchy about the availability of the player who is under contract until June 2026.

Juranovic hopes to bring down the curtain Qatar by helping Croatia take the number three position and, speaking to the Scottish Sun, reflected on last night’s loss and admitted: “As soon as we entered the dressing room, we said that we have to do our best to win that third place.

“The medal would be remembered for a lifetime.

“We need to pull ourselves together and close this chapter.”

And then it is back to Celtic to see what his future holds in store at club level.


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