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Simunovic keen to hold his place as Celtic near title

By Andy Newport

Celtic defender Jozo Simunovic reckons his hard work has paid off after marking his first Hoops appearance in a month with a goal.

The 22-year-old Croatian centre-back struck on the stroke of half-time to put Brendan Rodgers' men ahead against Dundee on Sunday.

Stuart Armstrong added a second after the break as the Hoops claimed a 2-1 win which moves them just one win away from securing their sixth consecutive title.

But Simunovic says his strike was all the more special after being forced to battle back into Rodgers' line-up.

He said: "I have worked hard in the last month. I didn't play much but my work paid off.

"I showed that against Dundee. It's part of football, you never know what happens tomorrow, so you use every day like it's the last of your life. That was my thinking every day last month."

Victory over Hearts at Tynecastle next Sunday - or an Aberdeen loss against Dundee on Friday night - will seal Rodgers' first Ladbrokes Premiership title since taking over last summer.

But Simunovic insists the Parkhead side will not get carried away just yet.

"The title is close and it's very exciting," he added.

"We're excited about the next game at Hearts and we want to finish it off in the right way.

"The consistency we have shown has been fantastic. It's not easy to continue winning every game but we prepare for every game the right way. We've done that all season and we just want to continue that.

"It was good to get the goal on Sunday. I always believe I can score but the most important thing is the team. It didn't matter who got it.

"I felt very good and in the end, we finished in the right way. I am happy with that.

"It was a scrambled goal but the most important thing was that we scored. It doesn't matter who scored.

"We put on the pressure in the last minute of the half and that's always the best time to score."

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