Brendan Rodgers has told Torino that Jozo Simunovic is still very much part of his plans at Celtic.
A potential loan or permanent move to the Serie A club in August fell through but the Turin outfit are reportedly set to come back for the Croatian when the transfer window opens in January.
The former Dinamo Zagreb player has become an integral part of Rodgers’ side since the Northern Irishman took over the Ladbrokes Premiership champions in the summer.
After the 1-0 win over bottom side Partick Thistle at Celtic Park on Tuesday night, where Scott Sinclair’s first-half strike took the Hoops 14 points clear of Rangers at the top of the table, the ex-Liverpool manager was asked about his attitude to Simunovic and Torino’s interest.
He said: “I think they have probably seen how well he’s been doing.
“He’s only a boy really at 22 years of age and developing very, very well.
“He’s got all the attributes and still has improvements to make of course, but if you’re a top club you would want someone like him.
“But he’s very much a part of what we’re building here.”
Celtic extended their unbeaten domestic run to 21 games but were far from their best against a side they had beaten 4-1 at Firhill over a week ago, albeit with Rodgers making eight changes from the side that started the 2-1 win over Dundee at the weekend and giving 18-year-old Calvin Miller his debut at left-back.
Partick assistant manager Scott Paterson was frustrated by the chances the visitors missed but insists all is not lost.
He said: “The belief is still there for the players. I know you look at the table and we sit bottom of the league.
“There are games where we can go and get something. We will dust ourselves down and get ready for Friday night’s game against Ross County. “