Nir Bitton has indicated that he would like to stay at Celtic beyond the expiry of his current contract at the end of this season.
In an interview with Celtic View (Volume 55, Issue 16, Page 13), the 27-year-old said that he feels the current campaign is a crucial one for him and expressed a desire to remain with the Hoops for as long as possible.
Bitton, who will be out of contract next summer, told Celtic View [via HITC]: “Every season is important for a football player but, for me, this season is important because I finish my contract at the end of it. I obviously want to stay at Celtic for as long as I can.”
Bitton was a regular presence in Celtic’s line-up earlier this season before a thigh injury picked up in the derby win over Rangers nearly two months ago curtailed his involvement in the team ever since.
The Israel international started the Hoops’ first four matches in both the Premiership and the Champions League qualifiers but, since being forced off with that injury at Ibrox, he only returned to action as a substitute in last week’s win over Ross County, when he featured for 17 minutes.
He has had more than his fair share of injury problems in his time in Glasgow, having been ruled out with a knee injury for nearly a year (as per The Scottish Sun) prior to his recent thigh problem.
Although he has played mainly as a defensive midfielder during his career, Bitton has spent most of this season at centre-back, helping Celtic to keep three clean sheets when deployed in that role.
The readiness with which he adapted to that role has been a huge help to Lennon, who has seen several defenders spend time on the treatment table this season.
Jozo Simunovic is likely to be out until the New Year, with The Telegraph reporting that he has needed rehabilitation work after the surgical clear-out of a knee injury, while Kristoffer Ajer incurred a groin problem against AIK in Europa League qualifying and missed the subsequent win over Rangers.
Also, Hatem Abd Elhamed had to be substituted with a dead leg against St Johnstone and was ruled out of the following week’s win at Motherwell with a minor muscle problem.
Bitton’s willingness to extend his stay at Celtic should come as music to Lennon’s ears, given the readiness with which he adapted to playing at centre-back and the spate of defensive injuries that the Hoops have incurred over the last while.
Even if the 27-year-old needs to win back his place in the team for now, his versatility and dependability makes him a huge asset to this Celtic squad.
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