Nir Bitton’s prospects at Celtic have definitely increased with the arrival of Neil Lennon, and the player knows it too.
The midfielder made several appearances under the Northern Irishman towards the end of last season. After injury hell with his knee, Bitton is finally back on the mend and ready to make an impact at Parkhead once more.
Lennon has been quick to praise his utility man too. He featured in the 3-1 win in Sarajevo as a centre-back, even though he’s naturally a defensive midfielder. It’s not something Celtic will want to do too much, but it certainly doesn’t bother Bitton where he plays.
Speaking to the Daily Record, the Israeli veteran stated he hopes his first-team run can continue as the season goes on.
“I appreciate the gaffer really rates me. He was the one who brought me into Celtic and he believed in me when he did that.
“He gave me the confidence to play in the first place and, for as long as he gives me chances in the future, I’ll always try to do my best for him, the fans and for the club because of all of the faith they have shown in me.
“I always feel I can do a job for Celtic. When you play for a club this size you always have competition and you always expect it. You know if you take your foot off the gas just one time you can lose your space in the team and when you get the opportunities to play you must take them and perform. Hopefully, I get a chance to play more this season.”
Bitton’s prospects are only positive if he stays injury free
It does say a lot about Bitton that he’s been able to come back from such a horrific near-year-long absence with a knee injury. It’s an area of the body where, if affected badly enough, can really affect your ability to perform.
Fortunately for Bitton, he appears to be back to his old self. His distribution wasn’t great in Sarajevo, but he did remain composed and proved too good for the opposition. The midfielder stated in the Record that he’ll be happy to play at the back or midfield. And, to be fair to Bitton, he has to open himself up to both positions as he’ll need to take whatever opportunity he can get in a packed squad.
His main goal has to be staying ahead of the likes of Eboue Kouassi in the pecking order. He also has a fresh rival in ex-Bolton wonder-kid Luca Connell. Trying to stave off him in the run for first-team contention will also be difficult.
But right now, the midfielder can’t look too far ahead. He will play again this season, Lennon likes him too much not to. But making sure he’s on top of his fitness and doesn’t aggravate the knee again is of vital importance. Another injury like that and his Celtic career is over.
Lennon coming back, however, could be the best thing that happens to Bitton in some time. It’s a man with unrivaled trust in him, and it’s at a precious time in his Celtic career too. Bitton is into the final year of his Parkhead deal (Transfermarkt). Therefore, he needs to make an impact or he’ll likely be out the door next summer.
With Lennon in the door, he could get more chances than he maybe would’ve had we gone down another route.