Celtic announce Nir Bitton tests positive for COVID-19

By John McGinley

October 10, 2020

Celtic have confirmed in a Saturday evening statement that Nir Bitton has returned a positive test for COVID-19 while on international duty with Israel.

Coming via the official website, it said: “We send our sincere best wishes to Nir and any other players or staff affected within the Israel squad. We are in constant dialogue with Nir and look forward to him returning safely to the Celtic squad as soon as possible.

“Clearly, recent events during this international period are very concerning and frustrating. We have worked tirelessly to ensure a safe and secure working environment and since testing has begun our players and medical staff have done a brilliant job in very difficult circumstances.

“Although we will never be complacent, throughout our own Club testing programme, our squad has returned around 2,000 individual negative tests since the outbreak of the pandemic, with not one positive test.”

Celtic Park / (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Nir Bitton played against Scotland at Hampden on Thursday night despite picking up an injury in recent Celtic action.

He was adamant he wanted to play for his country in a massive playoff but unfortunately has now ruled himself out of the upcoming match against Rangers.

The absolute priority is his health so we wish him all the best, but it is a frustrating situation for the Scottish champions.

As they note, no Celtic player at Lennoxtown has yet tested positive and the impact of international football has taken its toll.

Odsonne Edouard tested positive on French U21 duty.

Celtic striker Odsonne Edouard and manager Neil Lennon / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, Ryan Christie has been ordered to self-isolate after being in close contact with Stuart Armstrong, who himself tested positive.

Both Bitton and Christie have been ruled out of the upcoming match against Steven Gerrard’s team and Edouard is a big doubt.

The Bhoys have confirmed all members of the Celtic squad who continue to train at Lennoxtown during this period have again all returned negative tests yesterday.

It seems ludicrous that UEFA would continue to insist on Nations League matches being played with stars travelling across the continent from different football bubbles and potentially exposing themselves to the coronavirus.

It’ll be interesting to hear what Neil Lennon has to say this week about it all.