Celtic injury crisis latest! Lustig out and Bitton blow, Israeli’s season is over

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“Nir Bitton will probably be out for the season which is a blow for us,” Brendan Rodgers revealed yesterday.

“He has an issue with his knee and probably needs an operation and that is probably him for the rest of the season.

Celtic players have been falling like flies in recent weeks in what must be one of the worst injury crisis the club has suffered in a very long time.

Indeed as the manager hinted at yesterday he could field a team tonight from the injury list, that if they were fit, could be in a position to win the treble.

“In terms of injuries overall this year has been tough for us but it is a shame for him because he has been an important member of our squad. We are hoping some of the others will be back sooner rather than later,” Brendan said.

“Overall, this year as been, in terms of injuries, tough.

“It’s a shame for Nir as he’s a very important member of our squad, but some of the others will be back sooner rather than later.

“It’s a slight issue with his knee that he has put himself through.

“We had a look at it last week in London and it was deemed he needs the operation on it.”

In terms of players returning from the treatment table, Tom Rogic is ready to begin playing but will not be considered for a starting position tonight.

Paddy Roberts has been down at Manchester City this week and Celtic are awaiting the go-ahead from his parent club who want to monitor is hamstring before allowing him to play. Roberts will therefore not be involved tonight.

“Tom is back training now, Pat won’t be involved,” Brendan said.

“He is getting clearance on his hamstring injury so he has gone back to Manchester City to make sure everything is OK.”

Mikael Lustig is also out after returning perhaps too soon from his achilles injury on Saturday. Celtic are short of options at the back with the loss of both Bitton and Lustig so Kristoffer Ajer and Jozo Simunovic will be included in central defence.

Dedryck Boyata remains on the injury list following his groin injury incurred at Rugby Park.

New signing Marvin Compper is ineligible but is injured anyway! It has been that type of season.

Yet Brendan remains upbeat ahead of the challenges he is facing and he certainly put forward the case for his defence.

“It’s a work in progress,” he said.

“When you work here and we have to be real, you are not going to get a 25 or 26-year-old centre-half who is at the top of his game, they won’t be here.

“So at Celtic, you are either going to have a young player that you are nurturing, developing and coaching and putting into these situations to be better, such as Simunovic, Ajer, Hendry, to be better.

“Or you have the centre-halves at the other end towards the end of their careers with that experience.

“We are always going to have to have that. Celtic won’t be able to spend £20 million on a 26-year-old centre half, so the only way you can work it is by giving them coaching and experience.”

“Of course, it is a harsh environment to be trying to learn in, but that’s where we are at and we have to always find ways to help the players improve, be better find the solutions when they do have issues in games.

“Hendry is a boy who, in time, will be ready for that.

“He’ll be involved in the squad. This is the job. You have to develop them and get them through.”

Read Lisbon Lion Jim Craig’s morning diary on The Celtic Star. Today Jim previews the Celtic v Zenit St Petersburg match and you can read this HERE.

A further preview is included in The Celtic Star Podcast Extra.

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