FILIP Benkovic has revealed that he expects to remain at Celtic in the second half of the 2018/19 campaign as he prepares for the final two Ladbrokes Premiership games before the winter shutdown.

Benkovic was loaned to the Scottish champions for the season shortly after completing a £12 million move from Dinamo Zagreb to Leicester City back in August.

However, the King Power Stadium club, who defeated Chelsea 1-0 in a Premier League game at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, could recall him next month.

City manager Claude Puel said: “This player is doing well and it is beneficial for him and us for the future. I would like it if he continues his good work with Celtic, but we don’t know what can happen in January.”

If Benkovic returns south it will be a blow to Brendan Rodgers as the centre half has established himself as a first team regular during the last four months.

But the 21-year-old, speaking ahead of the games against Aberdeen at Pittodrie this afternoon and Rangers at Ibrox on Saturday, suspects he will stay in Glasgow for the remainder of this term.

“I can’t say any more because I don’t know,” he said. “Probably I will stay, but we will see in the next few weeks. We speak from time to time. They call me on the telephone. But it is difficult to say what will happen.”

Meanwhile, Benkovic has predicted the hostile atmospheres Celtic will encounter this week will help him and his team mates perform well and pick up six points. The Scottish champions are unlikely to receive any festive goodwill from the home supporters at either Pittodrie or Ibrox.

But the defender, whose team is bidding to win an eighth consecutive Scottish title this season, believes the double treble winners will respond positively.

“They are very important games,” he said. “The whole of December has been very important for us. It has been very tough. But in every game you play you send a message. If you relax a little bit it can punch you in the face. We must take these games 100 per cent seriously.

“We need to go game by game. Now we must focus and prepare for Aberdeen. They are a good team and we respect them a lot. But we know our qualities and we want to take maximum points.

“This team has played a lot of games at the highest level, including in the Champions League. We are hungry and we are hungry for these kind of games because they challenge you more. You play football because of challenges and these games will be tough.

“When you go onto the pitch and heard the loud crowd, especially in away games, it gives you more energy and makes me more determined to win. It inspires me. It is amazing.”

Ryan Christie made his comeback from injury in the 3-0 win over Dundee on Saturday and Rodgers is set to bring back Dedryck Boyata, Odsonne Edouard, Mikael Lustig and Kieran Tierney this afternoon.

Benkovic welcomed the return of his team mates ahead of two massively important fixtures, but stressed he is unconcerned about who he plays with at centre back.

“Ryan has worked very hard to come back and it was good to see him out on the pitch on Saturday,” he said. “There are a few players coming back and that can only be positive for us. When the team is healthy it creates competition for places and helps the atmosphere in the dressing room.

“We are all professional footballers and whoever the coach decides to pick you have to try and play as best you can and speak as much as you can with your team mates. It is down to the coach who he wants to play.”