Brendan Rodgers explains why 'inspirational' Celtic defender Jozo Simunovic may not always feature over coming weeks

Brendan Rodgers Celtic Manager looks on during the UEFA Champions League Qualifying Third Round, First Leg match between Celtic and Rosenborg at Celtic Park Stadium on July 26, 2017 in...

Celtic face some crucial fixtures over the coming month, and Brendan Rodgers has suggested that managing Jozo Simunovic is in his plans.

Brendan Rodgers has suggested that while he has no current concerns over Jozo Simunovic's fitness, he may look to manage how often the Croatian features over a crucial few weeks for Celtic, the Daily Record reports.

Simunovic has struggled with injuries for much of the time he has been with the Hoops, but is currently enjoying a decent run in the side and is one of the few fully fit centre-backs Rodgers has pick from at the moment. 

Jozo Simunovic of Celtic  celebrates after he scores during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match between Dundee and Celtic at Dens Park Stadium on March 19, 2017 in Dundee, Scotland.Jozo Simunovic

But Rodgers has suggested that the 23-year-old's previous struggles may leave him with an important selection decision as they travel to face Kilmarnock at Rugby Park later this month just days before they travel to Astana for the second-leg of their Champions League play-off tie. 

“We have to consider the load he has but he’s much better and has gained more strength in his knee," he said, as reported by the Daily Record.

“He’s not an injury concern but we have to monitor it especially when you look at playing

"Kilmarnock and Astana away on artificial pitches.

“Jozo is an inspirational young player. If the ball is in the box he’s normally got his head on it."

Celtic Manager Brendan Rodgers celebrates during the William Hill Scottish Cup Final between Celtic and Aberdeen at Hampden Park on May 27, 2017 in Glasgow, Scotland.

It is hardly surprising that Rodgers appears set to prioritise the Astana tie over the league clash with Killie, and thus, potentially leave Simunovic out of the league game in the days before the trip to Kazakhstan. 

Last season's performance coupled with their opening-day victory over Hearts suggests that the Hoops can afford to put out some weaker sides during the domestic campaign and still be overwhelming favourites for another league crown.

And if taking that stance allows them to boast a much stronger side for the clash with Astana, and thus, gives them a better chance of reaching the group-stages once again this year, then potentially denting their chances of bagging three points in one league game is surely a worthwhile sacrifice. 

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