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    Neil Lennon hails Nir Bitton but wants defensive help

    Neil-Lennon-and-Nir-Bitton-Celtic

    Football   |   July 11, 2019

    Manager Neil Lennon admits Celtic need defensive reinforcements as he cannot expect Nir Bitton to fill in at centre-back all season.

    Bitton got the nod to play at the heart of the Hoops’ rearguard as Celtic kicked off their Champions League qualification campaign away at Sarajevo. The Israel international coped well as the Bhoys pulled off a 3-1 triumph to give themselves every chance of advancing to the next round.

    Tougher tests await, both domestically and in Europe, and Lennon knows he needs to work hard in the transfer market to find the right players. Bitton, who moved to Glasgow from FC Ashdod in 2013, played centre-half a number of times under Brendan Rodgers – not always with great success – but he looked comfortable on Tuesday night.

    Nevertheless, the manager knows the 27-year-old would rather feature further up the pitch. “Nir can play at the back but it’s not ideal,” Lennon said. “Christopher Jullien isn’t up to speed yet and we are still looking to strengthen there, too.

    “Ideally, I’d like Bitton to play in midfield but he showed his qualities in defence, too.” And the Northern Irish tactician is hoping for a big season from the rangy schemer, who has returned from nearly a year out with a serious knee injury.

    “We have now thrown down the challenge to him to step up and make an impact on the team,” he added. “He has the game to do it. Nir is 27 and he’s a good athlete. There is more to come from him. But I have been very pleased with him so far.”

    Celtic are 1.33 to win the Scottish Premiership, while Glasgow rivals Rangers can be backed at 3.20.

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