LEICESTER CITY will NOT re-call Filip Benkovic from Celtic in January because their manager Claude Puel reckons that playing for the Scottish Champions for the full season will make the 23 year old Croatian a better defender for his own club next season.
That’s brilliant news for Brendan Rodgers who is braced for bids arriving for Dedryck Boyata when the January window opens – and the Daily Mail today are reporting that Fulham are set to re-new their interest despite changing their manager.
Whether the Belgian defender fancies that relegation battle or not remains to be seen but he is free to speak to clubs on 1 January.
With Kristoffer Ajer likely to be ready to play at the start of the year after that horrible eye socket injury he suffered at Livingston last time out, the news that Benkovic is staying will probably help clear Brendan Rodgers’ mind on Boyata.
If necessary the manager will keep him until the summer and he will then leave for nothing but with his head held high.
Of course Celtic could yet tempt the big defender to stay at Parkhead but that seems like a long shot so the news from Leicester City is therefore very welcome indeed. Here’s some of what Leicester boss Claude Puel said to the media yesterday.
“If there are no problems with injuries I’d like my players on loan to continue progressing and developing and to find their confidence and consistency.
“For me, it’s the right way for them and for us. I want players who are ready to play next season.
“It’s a great chance for Benkovic to play and come back with strength and good quality for us.
“He signed with Leicester to play in the Premier League. But this (Celtic) is a fantastic opportunity for him.
“If, for example, we have five or six centre backs we know it’s not possible to manage all of them.
“If he has game time at a good level it’s fantastic for him and fantastic for us.
“I prefer it if we can continue to improve with these players and give them some game time.
“It will be a strong benefit for us — and for them.
“In the last transfer window we made moves to improve the team and prepare the team for the future.
“Benkovic, just like Caglar Soyuncu, was a player we identified as ready to play for us.
“I will be happier when he comes back to us after the normal time with Celtic.
“Then we will have a player who is ready to play for us next season. I think that’s important and it’s a good way to do it.
“If some players have to come back early in January it will only be because we have some injury problems or other such things.”
Also on The Celtic Star today…
Charles Green, Christmas Day chicken, with pasta for Tiny Tim and pals…See HERE.
Jim Craig – Celtic 7 St Mirren 1, on this day in 1984…See HERE.