Celtic’s preparations for the new Scottish Premiership season have been dealt a blow following the news defender Jozo Simunovic will be banned for their opening two matches.
The Croatian centre-back will miss the Bhoys’ season opener against St Johnstone at Parkhead on August 3, as well as the trip to Motherwell the following week, after he was sent-off during the recent pre-season draw with St Gallen in Switzerland.
The 24-year-old was initially shown a yellow card for a head-high challenge on St Gallen forward Boris Babic, but it was then upgraded to a red when VAR, which was being trialled ahead of its introduction in the Swiss top flight this season, intervened.
The Swiss football authorities went on to report the sending off to their Scottish counterparts and they have opted to hand Simunovic a two-game domestic suspension, which means he won’t be available to feature in the league until Celtic’s home clash with Hearts on August 24.
Simunovic can still play for Celtic in Europe and he will be hoping to start when Neil Lennon’s side take on Estonian champions Nomme Kalju in the first-leg of their Champions League second qualifying round tie on Wednesday.
The former Dinamo Zagreb star, who has also been linked with a move to Ligue 1 club Lille over recent days, featured in both legs of Celtic’s first qualifying round triumph over Sarajevo, although the Hoops remain 501.00 outsiders to go on and win Europe’s premier club competition this season.