Nir Bitton has been given a big shot in the arm by Brendan Rodgers, after being labelled as “important” by the gaffer.

Bitton has just recovered from a long-term knee injury. He made his first appearance back in a cameo outing against Airdrie on Saturday.

It wasn’t enough time to make an impression, but the goal was just to get some game-time into him. His return was quite the surprise for a Celtic support who must’ve believed they would never see him again.

Nir Bitton is back, but he won’t be a consistent starter (TF-Images/TF-Images via Getty Images)

Even with Bitton fit, it looked a massively tough ask getting into the Celtic midfield. But Rodgers clearly plans to use him for the second half of the season. Speaking after the short cameo by the Israeli, Rodgers hailed the midfielder’s return.

“It’s great for Nir to come back. It’s been a long journey for him being out for nearly a year.

“To get 10 minutes and come in and get a nice touch, he’ll be another important player in the second half of the season.”

A temporary return before being shifted on?

Bitton’s contract isn’t up until the summer of 2020, therefore he still has 18 months remaining on his deal here. But Rodgers could use that to Celtic’s advantage ahead of the summer transfer window.

It wasn’t that long ago Bitton was getting linked with £6million bids out of Parkhead. Now, however, he’s simply a forgotten man whose career has been stalled by injury.

It’s clear Rodgers has plans for him in the second half of the season. He’s a capable player who can come in and do a job, but he’s not good enough to merit a place on a weekly-basis.

Brendan Rodgers could move to shift Bitton on this summer (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Bitton has, in total, made 172 appearances for Celtic since joining back in 2013 from Ashdod. But the next few months have to be used to get him on the shop window.

Celtic still need better than the Israeli, who at this point needs a club who can give him game-time at 27. It’s likely that Rodgers’ plans are simply to use him as a reliable sub. If Bitton starts another game this season, however, then that would be a bit of a surprise.

The return from injury has come at a good time. Celtic can use this opportunity to get Bitton’s fitness levels up before selling him on in the summer. Surely there’s not another solution to his situation at Celtic?

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