When Nir Bitton made his Celtic appearance yesterday, perhaps not many would’ve known it was his first in nearly 15 months.
The Israeli made his heroic return to the starting line-up against Motherwell yesterday in the 4-1 mauling at Parkhead. And predictably, he put in a typically reliable display against the Steelmen.
Bitton has certainly had his troubles over the last year. A nasty knee injury kept him out of action for 11 months. Nearly a full calendar year doing rehab certainly isn’t what the midfielder would’ve rather been doing. Especially whilst Celtic racked up a double-treble.
But despite making his return in the 3-0 win over Airdrieonians at Parkhead last month, it was the Motherwell match that announced Bitton was back.
The last time he had started a match before then was against Hamilton. That 3-1 success at Parkhead was all the way back on the 13th December 2017. Since then it’s been a largely troubling time for the Israeli.
But taking up Scott Brown’s role yesterday had never looked so simple. Sure, he isn’t as commanding as the Hoops skipper. Celtic also could’ve been tidier in possession during certain spells.
Regardless of all that, however, nobody can complain about how Bitton performed. His passing was generally crisp, and he showed plenty of examples of tidy footwork. It was an impressive performance if not overly-dominant.
Impressed against a vibrant midfield
That all came despite the fact he was up against arguably the second most energetic midfield in the country. .
Yesterday gives Bitton something substantial to build on. An impressive performance against a solid Premiership outfit. It was the kind of displays that Brendan Rodgers had taken to him for when he first arrived.
He also showed tremendous passion for the club. Bitton’s reaction when Motherwell scored THAT classless goal was beautiful. He didn’t shirk anything, and for a first start in nearly 15 months you have to be impressed.
Bitton may very well be thrown into the firing line when Celtic visit Tynecastle on Wednesday night too. Potential injuries to Callum McGregor and Ryan Christie could have him playing in a big match sooner than expected.
Yesterday was certainly a positive step for him. The question he’ll now need to answer is whether he’s up for the task to play in a tough away game.