CELTIC have been dealt a savage blow with the news that big money signing Jozo Simunovic is out for the run-in to the season.
The £5million Croatian central defender underwent a hush-hush operation on his knee in London on Wednesday and was told he had kicked his last ball in this campaign.
In fact, Simunovic may even be doubtful for the start to NEXT season when there is every possibility the Hoops will be involved in the Champions League qualifiers in July.
Boss Ronny Deila now faces a sweat as he prepares his squad for a tilt at a league and Cup double.
The Norwegian hoped to team up the former Dinamo Zagreb stopper with Danish new Bhoy Erik Sviatchenko with crucial games looming in both tournaments.
Simunovic had started light training at Lennoxtown after failing to make a solitary first team appearanace following his injury in the 3-1 win over St Johnstone in January.
However, the Under-21 international still didn’t feel right and, after medical advice, it was decided surgery was required and that course of action ensured he would sit out the rest of the season.
It’s another setback for the player in his debut term at the SPFL champions following his arrival in August as a replacement for Southampton-bound Virgil van Dijk.
He has managed only 17 appearances and admitted last month: “I cracked a bone in my knee, an injury which I did not know about.
“I played with it for a month because I did not think it was that serious – but the problem got worse.”
Deila will now be hoping Sviatchenko, Charlie Mulgrew and Dedryk Boyata remain injury-free between now and the completion of the campaign.