Nir Bitton is probably right to say that Neil Lennon won’t be happy with him this morning.
He is probably right to say that the Celtic boss has good reasons to be pissed off.
Of course, the media is making more of this than they should, because if Celtic really didn’t want him to play I daresay he would have sat the game out.
A certain tabloid rag has, this morning, suggested he’s a major doubt for the Sevco game.
They don’t have a clue whether he is or not.
He played last night because it was a massive match; the decision not to risk him for Israel’s next fixture has clearly been made with the connivance of our club.
I have no doubt Bitton will be ready for that match if required.
Because we’ll also have a fit Shane Duffy, Kris Ajer and Christopher Jullien.
We’ll also have Abd Elhamed, who also played last night, in central defence no less.
Rather than focus on the negatives – which is where the media wants us looking – I choose to look on the positives, and they centre around the performances of the two Israeli internationals, who I thought strolled the match. Bitton, in particular, was excellent.
He played in midfield last night, not at central defence where we’ve seen him feature regularly for Celtic in the past couple of seasons.
It is his natural position, where his full range of skills is most obvious and evident. He has always possessed that little bit of class; he isn’t one of those midfield players who chases every ball, he’s a more elegant player than that. He ran the show for the visiting team last night, and was cool under pressure for the penalty.
Abd Elhamed too looked the part; he had a wicked late shot deflected by McTominey and he almost got a late assist when his perfectly flighted ball into the box just eluded Weissman. He seems back to full fitness too, and reminded us of what he’s got.
Bitton and Elhamed are quality footballers, but amazingly they aren’t considered first picks at Celtic when everyone else is fit and available.
This shows the strength of our squad overall.
These guys would walk into any other side in the league, including the one across the city.
Last night I didn’t concern myself with whether Bitton should or shouldn’t have played; instead I watched him play, and in recent months I’ve rediscovered what a pleasure it is.
I hope we see a lot more of him in the next few months.
I know we will.