Celtic have struggled defensively this season

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Celtic’s defensive issues have been there for all to see this season, and one potential solution has now been ruled out.

Rangers have opened up a 21-point gap at the top of the table, thanks in part to a solid defence that has shipped just six goals in 23 matches.

Across the city, however, it’s been a different story entirely.

The champions have conceded 16 goals in just 20 league matches, with the most recent coming deep into injury time on Monday night as Kevin Nisbet took advantage of uncertainty in the box to earn Hibs a 1-1 draw.

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That moment was symptomatic of the vulnerability at the heart of Celtic’s backline, and the situation has become more urgent with the news that Christopher Jullien faces three to four months on the sidelines through injury.

It appeared that Filip Benkovic could have been set to address some of those problems, but it’s been confirmed today that he’s secured a move to Belgian side Oud-Heverlee Leuven.

Benkovic, who was brought to the club by Brendan Rodgers on a season-long loan from Leicester City in 2018, was reunited with his former manager in time for the 2019/20 season.

Injury has derailed his progress, however, and the Croatian international has spent time on loan at English Championship sides Bristol City and Cardiff City.

Rodgers was open to the idea of Benkovic joining Celtic for a second spell, with Record Sport quoting him as saying: “It’s certainly a possibility. It’s a huge club and he did very well there.

“We haven’t had any contact but he’s back now and we will see what happens.

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“Celtic would be a great move for him. He’s at the age where he really needs to be playing and that didn’t quite materialise at Cardiff.

“I would never blame another manager for not playing someone because circumstances can change all the time but unfortunately it didn’t work out.

“It’s quite simple really, it’s now a case of finding somewhere where he can go next and get some game time.”

Celtic’s hopes have been dashed, with the 23-year-old centre-back heading out to Belgium for another loan spell.

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