Celtic’s Nir Bitton could miss most of September through injury after he limped out of the Glasgow derby win on Sunday.
Bitton has also been ruled out of Israel’s upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers, as reported by The Scottish Sun, and if he is out for the rest of the month, he will miss three Premiership games, a Betfred Cup match and the Hoops’ opening Europa League group game.
Last Sunday’s win over Rangers was the fourth consecutive Premiership game in which he had played in defence and he has adapted commendably to the role, with Sky Sports‘ Allan Valente noting how he “looked at ease in defence again” at Ibrox and constantly denied Rangers space in the Celtic penalty area.
In the eight matches this season in which Bitton has started at centre-back, the Hoops have conceded just six goals (0.75 per game). In their other five matches, they have let in six goals, an average of 1.2 per game. [via TransferMarkt.co.uk]
He is not the only Celtic defender currently nursing an injury, with Kristoffer Ajer also set to miss the Hoops’ next two matches, as reported by Herald Scotland.
Meanwhile, Hatem Abd Elhamed played through a fracture against Rangers on Sunday according to Evening Times, having missed last week’s 4-1 Europa League play-off win against AIK.
With Jack Hendry not playing a single minute for the club during Lennon’s time in charge and new signing Lee O’Connor yet to appear competitively at senior level, that would leave Christopher Jullien and Jozo Simunovic as the Hoops’ only trusted and fully-fit centre-back options once the international break is over.
The absence of Bitton threatens to leave Celtic very light at centre-back for their upcoming fixtures, especially with Ajer also likely to miss the next two games.
The Israel international had been performing quite well in his new-found defensive role, with the Hoops concession rate significantly lower with him at centre-back compared to without, and the timing of his injury could hardly have been worse given his recent good form and Celtic’s defensive injury woes.
Celtic fans, how big a blow is Bitton’s probable absence for the month of September? Give us your thoughts in the comments section below!
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