Filip Benkovic believes he can establish as strong a partnership with countryman Jozo Simunovic as he did with Dedryck Boyata.

The Croatian’s partnership with Boyata gave Celtic considerable solidity with the Parkhead side keeping 10 clean sheets from 12 outings with the duo at the heart of defence.

Boyata’s hamstring injury means Simunovic is expected to come in with Benkovic confident of maintaining a strong core.

”I think we were good against Motherwell,” he said. “They got one chance and they scored in the last two or three minutes.

“We know each other well.

“I’m looking forward to playing with him in the next games.

“I think I can have a good partnership with Jozo. We speak the same language and we know each other well.

“We must be like a team behind each other.

“I’m positive about the overall situation.”

Meanwhile, Benkovic has insisted that his ‘goal’ against Motherwell in Wednesday night’s 1-1 draw ought to have stood.

“For me I was shocked my goal wasn’t allowed,” he said. “I didn’t understand what happened. From my side I think everything was clear. I didn’t touch their player. But sometimes the ref whistles what he sees.

“What can we do?

“I asked the referee why, but he said it was his decision and that was that. I still don’t understand – but what can I do?

“I can’t bring it back.

“Saturday is an even more important game for us. Kilmarnock have done well this season and we respect their team. But we must look for the win in this game.

“We want to come back to winning ways. We are 100 per cent focused on this game.”