Why Celtic re-signing Filip Benkovic on loan would be a shrewd move
The 23-year-old is currently back the King Power stadium following the termination of his loan spell at Cardiff City, where he made just one appearance during the first half of the season. Benkovic, though, doesn’t feature in Rodgers’ immediate plans in the Premier League and the manager has admitted that he would be happy to send the defender out on loan to his former club Celtic this month. (h/t Daily Record)
The report doesn’t mention whether Celtic are specifically interested in re-signing Benkovic but it is understood that Hoops manager Neil Lennon is monitoring several fresh additions to his centre-back ranks in the winter window.
The Croatian enjoyed a productive loan spell at Parkhead during the 2018-19 season when Rodgers was in charge, featuring 27 times in all competitions as Celtic won a third straight domestic treble.
However, Benkovic has hardly enjoyed similar success under Rodgers at Leicester. The centre-back made only a solitary FA Cup appearance for the Foxes during the first half of last season before being loaned out to Bristol City in the Championship. The Croatian made a positive impression in the second-tier but that hasn’t been enough to convince Rodgers that he is deserving of a first-team role.
Meanwhile, Celtic’s pursuit of a new centre-back in January certainly makes a lot of sense. The Hoops have been dealt a major blow by the injury to Christopher Jullien, who is expected to be sidelined for the next three to four months. That could see him effectively miss the remainder of the campaign at Parkhead.
The need for defensive reinforcements has been heightened even further, with utility man Nir Bitton struggling for consistency and Brighton loanee Shane Duffy also failing to impress. With Hatem Abd Elhamed also a peripheral figure in the set-up, it goes without saying that the Hoops need to find a reliable partner for Kristoffer Ajer at the heart of the backline.
The availability of Filip Benkovic on loan this month should be enough to put Celtic on red alert. The Croatian was quite brilliant during his temporary stint at Parkhead a couple of seasons back and would offer Lennon some much-needed quality heading into a hectic second half of the campaign.
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Going by his performances at Celtic in 2018-19, Filip Benkovic certainly has more than enough quality to walk straight into Neil Lennon’s starting XI. Celtic’s struggles at the back have been well-documented this season and the Croatian’s return would surely hand a boost to the reigning champions as they bid to cope with Jullien’s injury.