Celtic’s Nir Bitton could be like a new signing this season after injury lay-off

This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more… 

Nir Bitton is back in action and already looking like the player we saw before a devastating knee injury kept him out for so long.

On the chalkboard

Bitton made his Celtic return in January last season having previously feared his career was over.

He was never a first-team regular though as he eased back into things after such a serious lay-off.

This season, he’s been thrown into the action, starting in all four of Celtic’s Champions League qualifiers against Nomme Kalju and FK Sarajevo.

The 27-year-old has played a variety of roles, predominantly out-of-position as a centre-back but also in his more comfortable central midfield role, patrolling in front of the defence.

His varying roles come down to the upheaval going on around him, with many coming in and plenty leaving as Neil Lennon looks to reshape his squad.

The second coming of Bitton

The Israeli looks set to play an important role this coming season, with Lennon trusting him in the crucial Champions League ties.

His calmness as a central defender could be a highly-valued commodity, particularly in the opening months of the new campaign.

With Christopher Jullien and Hatem Abd Elhamed adapting to life at the club and Kristoffer Ajer and Jozo Siumnovic both linked with moves away, the backline might need his calming presence in this tumultuous time.

As a midfielder by trade, the ability to bring the ball out of defence will be of second nature to the 27-year-old. With Celtic dominating the majority of the games they play in, there’s an emphasis on their defenders to do more than just keep the ball out of their net. Bitton’s experience as a midfielder will lend itself to this style.

Also, his return to fitness and form should allow Scott Brown the odd well-earned breather. At 34, the Scot shouldn’t need to be relied upon every single week and with Bitton back he could let Brown recharge his batteries every so often.

Bitton’s versatility is a huge boost for Lennon and his timely return after a year of injury hell could help ease the club through a period of transition.

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