By Harry Sykes

Newcastle are keeping close tabs on Celtic defender Jozo Simunovic, according to a report.

The Mail claim Rafael Benitez’s team are closely monitoring the centre-back, 22, but face competition for his signature from Crystal Palace.

Simunovic was set for a £4million summer move to Torino but the deal broke down at the eleventh hour after the Italians tried to change the structure of the payments and raised concerns about a knee injury he suffered last season.

In a statement released via his personal Twitter account, the Croatian denied that the move fell through because he failed a medical and insisted that he would put the failed move behind him and concentrate on giving his best for Celtic.

Simunovic has made five appearances for Celtic this season after recovering from a knee injury that sidelined him for much of his debut campaign.

The former Croatia Under-21 international is highly regarded by manager Brendan Rodgers and is in contention to start Sunday’s Scottish League Cup semi-final clash against Rangers.

“He is a big talent,” said Rodgers. “If you look at his profile, he is 6ft 3in, he is very dominant, strong, quick, can serve the ball and for a young player shows a wonderful mentality.

“He is a player I really like and hopefully he can stay fit.”

In other Newcastle transfer news, the club’s midfielder move has been placed on ice.