Leicester City loanee ‘returns’ ahead of decision over his future

Filip Benkovic is a Leicester City player again following the expiry of his loan contract, Bristol City have announced.

The Croatian defender has spent the second half of the season at Ashton Gate, but was unable to help the Robins clinch a place in the Championship play-off places.

Bristol City were sixth when Benkovic made the move at the end of January transfer window, but a collapse in form saw them finish 12th, seven points outside the play-off places, with their poor run bringing an end to Lee Johnson’s tenure at the start of the month.

Benkovic only started six of the 16 games he was eligible to feature in, but mostly received high praise from Robins fans when he was included in the side. The Croatia international also scored twice, including an excellent curling finish from the edge of the box against Stoke earlier in the month.

In saying goodbye to Benkovic and fellow loanees Benik Afobe and Pedro Pereira, Bristol City said: “Everyone connected with the club would like to thank these players for their efforts throughout their time in BS3 and we wish them well for the future.”

Although Bristol City said Benkovic had “returned to his parent club”, it’s likely that the centre-back will now begin his holiday before returning next season.

Returning loan players are ineligible to play in the Premier League, while Benkovic has not been registered in the club’s 25-man squad anyway.

In the summer, City will have to make a decision on his future, and whether he stays and plays, or is loaned out again.

City are likely to try to bring in a central defender this summer, and with Wes Morgan signing a new contract, Brendan Rodgers has options. But with European football secured, they may need the extra bodies.

If they did want to loan out Benkovic, they would likely have plenty of suitors, with Derby and Middlesbrough also showing interest in January before he moved to Bristol City.

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