Celtic vs Livingston will tell the Hoops fans plenty about our youngsters, but we’ll also finally get an answer on Nir Bitton.
The Bhoys never did release a list of those players self-isolating. Only Chris Jullien was named as the positive case back on Monday. Neil Lennon and John Kennedy were also named as two of those deemed as close contacts. This was to be expected given it’s the manager and his assistant.
Only when the line-up against Hibs was announced were we able to piece things together. Clearly, the likes of Odsonne Edouard, Scott Brown, Leigh Griffiths, Kris Ajer, and Ryan Christie were just some of those who are in self-isolation.
But Bitton was always going to miss out anyway. He was carrying out his one-match suspension picked up thanks to a red card at Ibrox on January 2nd. That ruled him out of the Hibs game, and in a match where we could’ve used him.
But there’s been no confirmation from the club as to whether he’ll be available this Saturday. Livingston are the visitors to Parkhead, and Celtic need all of the bodies they can get.
Celtic vs Livingston will be tough; Bitton would be a welcome addition
Bitton was clearly one of the players that went to Dubai. There was no reason for him not to be there. Even if he was injured, that clearly means nothing given Jullien was there.
But if he’s good to go, he’ll likely be in the team. Even though Stephen Welsh and Shane Duffy impressed together, we still conceded against Hibernian. Who Nir would replace is up for debate, but he’s well trusted by the management team at Parkhead.
If he isn’t anywhere near the squad, it tells a story. It tells us that he’s one of the 16 who’s having to self-isolate. In addition to that, it would rule him out of the game at the Tony Macaroni Arena next midweek.
The concern at the moment is that we have no real options outside of Duffy and Welsh. We need both men to last 180 minutes over the next week. It shouldn’t be too much to ask, but anything can happen on Livi’s artificial pitch. Not having alternative options isn’t ideal either.
That’s what would make Nir’s return so important. He provides better distribution from the back generally, even if he was a touch clumsy at Ibrox. People easily forget how he was bossing Alfredo Morelos before that lapse in judgment.
So let’s see what happens when the line-ups are announced. Celtic’s social media silence this week has meant we haven’t been able to get a glimpse into the first-team training images. Hopefully, Nir is fit and available to face David Martindale’s side tomorrow regardless.