Jozo Simunovic is confident that he and Filip Benkovic can establish a strong partnership at the heart of the Celtic midfield as the Parkhead side prepare for a gruelling and definitive run of games.

Dedryck Boyata was forced out of the Betfred League Cup win at Hampden after a clash of heads with Gary Mackay-Steven, although Brendan Rodgers later revealed that his problem was a hamstring strain and not concussion.

The expectancy is that Boyata will miss the game against Motherwell tomorrow night with Simunovic set to partner his fellow countryman. “Filip is my wee brother!" joked Simunovic.

“It is amazing for there to be two Croatian centre-halves together for Celtic.

“Finally, after four years we again are reunited.

“We had one game at Dinamo Zagreb and it was a 0-0 away draw against the team Rangers played, Osijek.

“Sunday was our second game with a second game and it was really enjoyable.

“We could never have imagined that one day we’d play together for Celtic in a winning cup final.

“We are very lucky.

“Filip signed for Leicester but then had a chance to join Celtic. We spoke and I told him the fans are amazing and it is a huge club.

“Zagreb is also a very big club and so that is good for your mentality. It is better than fighting for a team that is middle of the table. That is not the same.

“Filip had a good game against Aberdeen also, he really enjoyed it." Despite looking forward to more regular game time, Simunovic has insisted that he would rather have got his chance on merit rather than because of injury. Boyata was in the eye of a storm in the latter weeks of the summer transfer window as he reacted furiously to a blocked bid from Fulham but since then has formed a reliable partnership with Benkovic. That has been reflected in the manner in which Celtic have established a run of clean sheets - in their last 10 domestic games they have lost just two goals. “We hope Dedryck is okay," insisted Simunovic.

“But if me and Filip are to continue to play together then I’m sure we’ll do well.

“To be honest, I don’t care who is beside me. I just what to help the team, I want to do my best.

“I feel sorry for Dedryck. But he is, for sure, going to be back soon.

“He is a big part of things.

“The gaffer picks the team – and I want to play.

“Dedryck will probably be out of the next game. But I am ready, I just want to enjoy my football." Meanwhile, Simunovic is relaxed about the prospect of Celtic's chances of a treble treble. Having won the first of that trio with the win over Aberdeen, there will inevitably be a focus now on whether the Parkhead side can perform a clean sweep for the third successive season. And the defender has also welcomed the challenge that has emanated from Steven Gerrard's Rangers side.

“Why not? We believe in that," said the defender.

“We have started very well, one trophy is already in our hands. Why can’t we do it again?

“The season is very long while the next cup starts next year. But we’ll be good.

“For us it is good that Rangers are good, so we can give even more.

“It brings the best out of us – and we need that.

“We are definitely still the strongest team in the country. We need to keep going.”