Celtic

By James Black

Celtic’s Dedryck Boyata has hailed team-mate Nir Bitton for improving every day after the Israeli midfielder stepped in at central defence again for the Hoops against Hibernian at Hampden Park on Saturday.

With Jozo Simunovic and Erik Sviatchenko still injured, Brendan Rodgers was forced to play Bitton in the heart of defence for the ninth time this season.

Bitton partnered Boyata for the Scottish League Cup semi-final win over Hibernian on Saturday and is likely to keep his place for Wednesday’s trip to Pittodrie to face Aberdeen in the Scottish Premiership.

Boyata was full of praise however for the way Bitton has handled the challenge of a new position although he realises that it may not be easy for the Israeli to do.

“We’ve been working very hard since the beginning of the season with all the defenders and players like Nir who has been playing as a centre-back,” Boyata said, as quoted by Celtic’s official website.

“He’s being doing very well and has been helping us a lot.

“Nir is developing every day.

“It’s definitely not easy for him.

“There are things which you can see a centre-back would do straight away but he’s a very good player and he’s improving all the time.”

Celtic travel to Pittodrie to face Derek McInnes’ side with both teams level on points at the top of the Scottish Premiership.

A win for either side would see them open up a three-point gap at the top of the table – while Celtic will also be looking to extend their 60-game unbeaten domestic run.

With third-placed Rangers facing Kilmarnock at Ibrox at the same time, defeat would allow the Ibrox side to potentially close to within three points of second.

In other Celtic news, this Premier League giant has ramped up their pursuit of a Celtic first-team mainstay after jetting out on a transfer mission.

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