NIR BITTON was outstanding against both Hearts and Hibs last week and looks certain to start today against Aberdeen. With so many midfielders out injured at the moment – including the industrious Callum McGregor plus the likes of Ryan Christie, Tom Rogic and Olivier Ntcham, Bitton’s return to full fitness after eleven months on the sidelines due to a worrying knee injury, has given Celtic a massive boost at the business end of the season.
The Israeli midfielder was signed by Neil Lennon so like captain Scott Brown, James Forrest and Mikael Lustig he is well aware of just how effective Lenny can be as the Celtic manager. Bitton though, whether it’s Rodgers or Lenny in charge is simply glad to be back and is perhaps a little surprised that he’s managed to see as much first team action as he has in the first month or two back in the squad.
“My first game was against Airdrie in the Cup but it felt like Barcelona in the Champions League,” Bitton stated.
“I was thinking, ‘This is what I have missed’. I am just happy to be back on the pitch. It was really exciting for me and my family getting back out there.
“If you’d asked me during the winter break in Dubai if I thought I would have played this amount of games by now, I would have said ‘No’.
“I’ve never taken anything for granted because my injury was quite bad and it was a long rehab. I appreciate every minute now, on the pitch and in training.
“I wouldn’t say I was anxious when I came back, but when you come back there’s always thoughts in the back of your head. When you suffer that kind of injury for the first time in your career, you always fear the worst.
“I’m glad I didn’t have any setbacks. It was a smooth rehab and everything went to plan. The medical staff were always positive and I’m just happy it’s all behind me.
“It’s worse mentally than physically. When the specialist told me I would be out for nine to 12 months I just started crying. It’s not something you are ready for but it’s important to be mentally strong and to have family around you.
“You’re happy seeing the boys winning trophies but, while you celebrate, you are not really part of it. You want to be involved in the dressing room, you can’t affect things and that’s the most frustrating thing.
“When you are at a club like Celtic you want be involved in winning trophies. There are two left and we want to win them both. We’ll do our best to achieve it.”
Bitton spoke to the media to help promote Magners’ sponsorship of next week’s Cheltenham Gold Cup.
“You get the medals when you are out, but it’s not the same feeling as you were injured for most of the season,” he noted.
“You are happy for the boys and the team, but inside it’s not the same feeling. That was the most frustrating thing for me when I was out.
“I’m just happy to be back. You just miss all the games. You want to take part in them all. But obviously the European games and the ones against (the) Rangers and Aberdeen, these are the ones you really want to take part in.
“It was very difficult to be on the outside watching the boys winning those games as you just want to be part of it. I’m happy I can help the team now.”
Bitton spoke about the managerial changes that have resulted in him being re-united with the boss who signed him for Celtic in the first instance.
“It’s great to have him back. He brought me in and believed in me then. We had an unbelievable two-and-a-half years with Brendan Rodgers as well. I will always try to do my best for the team, whether it’s Neil, Brendan or a different coach.”
Here’s the Celtic TV video of Bitton’s Press Conference from yesterday which has had around 4000 views so far.
One of the comments on You Tube was from Joseph Maxwell who had this to say:
“I think Bitton’s return is like a new successful signing, he’s been playing out his skin!
“Well done Nir welcome back, good luck for the rest of the season and beyond.
“Let’s get the League won and then we can focus on the Scottish Cup.
“One game at a time!”