The Croatian centre-back has developed into a key player for the Hoops this season after joining on-loan from Leicester City, and was one of the first names on the team-sheet for the showdown with their bitter rivals at Ibrox on December 29.
But he had to be subbed midway through the first-half, as the 21-year-old’s injured knee began to flare up once again, and he could only watch from the sidelines as his team-mates were condemned to a 1-0 defeat.
Having undergone treatment at the club’s warm-weather training base in Dubai, Benkovic explained via the Daily Record: “My knee is good again. I had the problem for a few weeks in December but it’s OK again.
“I’ve trained as normal in Dubai, doing my rehabilitation and some extra work on my knee.
“I still feel it a little bit but I can do everything on the pitch. If it stays like this, everything will be fine.
“During the Rangers match, I felt the same pain I’d felt at Aberdeen the week before in the 10th minute.
“I knew then that it was impossible to continue so I told the coach and we made the decision to come off.
“Before the game I’d taken some medicine, a lot of stuff, but it didn’t help. We had a few injuries already in defence and sometimes you get days like that. It was tough, you know. But I tried. I just wasn’t going to make it.
“In hindsight, maybe I shouldn’t have played. But when you’re a footballer you want to play in every game – especially that one!
“You play football for games like that. Those matches are different so you want to give everything – even if it’s on one leg!
“So I tried but it didn’t work. Now, I’m not thinking about the Rangers game any more.
“We didn’t play well so we’ll move forward to the next game. That defeat is in the past and our focus is to be much better.”
Celtic play Airdrie in the Scottish Cup next weekend, and whilst Brendan Rodgers’ side will probably be OK without Benkovic for that game, they’ll definitely need him back for their assault on winning the Premiership.
How much do you rate Benkovic?