Date: 11th January 2017 at 7:49am
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Jozo Simunovic is ready to become a full-time Celt.

The Croatian has been used carefully in the first half of the season as he recovered from knee surgery last January.

Simunovic rarely played in back-to-back matches and avoided the plastic surfaces of Kilmarnock and Hamilton as Celtic stormed towards six-in-a-row.

There’s no doubt that the Simunovic-Erik Sviatchenko partnership is the one that Brendan Rodgers wants to build around as he gears up for another attempt to reach the Champions League group phase.

The early season fixtures come thick and fast but after a brief break and some training shifts in Dubai the young Croatian defender is raring to prove himself.

I am young, I want to play every game,” he told The Sun.

Sometimes the coaches decide ‘We need to give him a rest’ because it is not possible to play all season in every game, especially three games a week. That’s difficult for me.

When I look back and see what I did, I understand why they do it.

With my knee, everything is okay. I’m working just on my fitness now. I don’t have any problem if someone wants to ask me about my knee because it’s fine.

It doesn’t matter what people ask. I know what I feel, and it feels fine. I want to believe in myself. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. These are my knees, no one else’s.”

Simunovic has started 11 of Celtic’s 20 SPFL matches but only two of the 12 European ties.

During December he played in seven of the 11 fixtures handed to Brendan Rodgers side including back-to-back wins over Ross County and Sevco as the hoops created a 19 point gap at the top of the SPFL.