Zenit St Petersburg manager Roberto Mancini has delivered a u-turn on the fitness of senior star Branislav Ivanovic for the club’s Europa League clash with Celtic on Thursday.
The Russian side travel to Glasgow for the first of two legs in the round of 32 encounter, having not played a competitive match since early December as the Premier League took its winter break.
Despite a lack of game time, they still looked set to be without former Chelsea man Ivanovic, with Mancini confirming just days ago that he was a major doubt after picking up an eye injury, with several tests needed to be conducted.
However the ex-Manchester City boss has now confirmed that there is the possibility the 33-year-old defender could well be among the squad just 24 hours before kick off, insisting he is better than he was, although is still not at full fitness, and will undertake a last minute examination to make sure.
He was quoted by the Daily Record as saying on Wednesday: “Maybe Branislav can play or go on the bench or play. We will decide tomorrow.
“He has a problem with his eye. He is getting better but he is not 100 per cent yet. With his experience he is important to us.”
Ivanovic, who made 377 outings for Chelsea during his time in England, has been a regular feature among the Zenit first team this season, with 27 appearances across all competitions, missing two of their six Europa League group games as they picked up five wins and one draw.
Celtic made it to this stage after dropping out of their Champions League group in third with just one victory, the 3-0 result over Anderlecht ensuring they finished ahead of the Belgian side.