Celtic defender Nir Bitton was an injury doubt to play for Israel against Scotland on Thursday night, as Neil Lennon insisted he had an ankle injury, but he started the game and surprisingly played all 120 minutes, per SofaScore.
The Scottish Sun then reported that Bitton has now been pulled out of the squad for their games against Czech Republic and Slovakia.
The defender has since come out and spoken about the situation, and it is safe to say he is now worried about the repercussions of playing for his country this week.
Should Celtic defender Bitton have played for Israel against Scotland?
What has Bitton said about his injury and when he can play for Celtic?
Speaking to the Daily Record, the centre-back said, “Celtic are the club who pay my salary but as a person, as a professional athlete, I couldn’t give up on this game. These are the games you dream of playing when you are six years old.
“Even the day after the injury I told the medical staff at Celtic that I wanted to give myself a chance. I twisted my ankle very badly away in Bosnia and I didn’t believe I could make it. On the way back home on Friday I was on crutches, I was in a wheelchair and I couldn’t even walk on the foot. But I wasn’t going to rule myself out of the game until I knew that I couldn’t play.
“I played this game only because of them and I understand the frustration of Celtic. I was glad I made it but it is a bit frustrating now. With all the adrenaline around the game and around the occasion you don’t feel anything. I feel it now though.”
When asked if he will be fit to be part of the squad in the Old Firm derby next Saturday, Bitton said: “I am in big trouble if I’m not! Obviously Rangers is a big game but I’m not thinking about Rangers right now. I gave everything to take part in this (Scotland) game. That really was my target.”
What happens next for Bitton and Celtic?
That Lennon believed Bitton would not play due to injury will infuriate the manager. It feels somewhat irresponsible that, despite his injury concerns, Bitton still played the full match, extra time and even took a penalty in his team’s shootout defeat. It looks like that have worsened the injury as his national team aren’t risking involving him for their upcoming matches.
The match against Rangers is always the Hoops’ biggest game and there is perhaps even more at stake this season as Celtic’s rivals are one point ahead at the top of the Premiership table.
Bitton has not been a consistent starter for the Hoops this campaign, although he has played in six matches, including three games in the league, per Transfermarkt. Therefore, his possible absence might not impact the club massively for the Old Firm derby.
However, it could mean that Lennon’s squad lacks depth, and the manager will hope there are no more injuries in the defence. It seems like Bitton has learnt his lesson, but he might have done so too late and he will hope that it doesn’t rule him out of the clash at Parkhead next week.
Celtic fans, what are your thoughts on Bitton’s injury fortunes? Comment below with your views!