Celtic’s Nir Bitton is walking something of a disciplinary tightrope tonight against AIK if he is named in the starting eleven or comes off the bench.
The Israeli international has been a regular pick in Neil Lennon’s side this season. In total he’s played in eight matches so far.
With defensive fitness issues rearing their head, there’s every chance he features again tonight in defence or in midfield.
UEFA rules (Article 51) dictate that receiving three yellow cards in European competition results in a suspension.
Bitton picked up a caution in away matches against Nomme Kalju and Cluj. That means another tonight would rule him out of the second leg against AIK.
Lennon badly needs all of the options available to him right now, so that would obviously be a blow to the squad.
The rule transfers between competitions (UEFA rules Article 51.03). Even though the 27-year-old received yellow cards in the Champions League, it applies to the Europa League too.
Fortunately all yellow card tallies are scrubbed prior to taking part in the group stage. It’s only tonight that the player needs to show a bit of extra care in the tackle.
Is Bitton likely to start?
Second guessing Lennon’s selections has become a bit of a pointless exercise this season. He hasn’t seemed to settle on his preferred defence and midfield in recent weeks.
Hatem Abd Elhamed is a major doubt (The Daily Record), so Kristoffer Ajer will likely move to right-back.
Lennon has stated that Christopher Jullien gets the nod in central defence leaving just one spot open.
With Jozo Simunovic likely pairing him, Bitton’s best chance of action tonight is from the bench.
Still, he picked up his yellow card against Cluj after coming on very late in the match in Romania, so he must remain vigilant so as not to pick up a potentially costly suspension.