Alex McLeish has suggested Nir Bitton is only good enough to be used as cover at centre-back rather than a first-choice defender for Celtic.
The former Rangers and Scotland manager, speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, admitted he thought the Hoops needed to get a natural centre-half back into the starting XI to boost their prospects.
Bitton, a natural central midfielder, has started the last three games across all competitions at the heart of the defence, with Shane Duffy benched and Christopher Jullien out injured.
The 29-year-old has played a total of 10 times for the Bhoys this season and has featured either at the heart of the defence or as a makeshift right-back.
However, McLeish has suggested Celtic need a more natural defensive operator to take Bitton’s place after what he has seen for both club and country.
McLeish told Football Insider: “Well, Bitton at the weekend, there was a flick on for the Hibs goal or something, I can’t remember which one it was.
“The ball was running on to the other defender, he pulled the player back and it resulted in a free kick in when the other defender was clearly, probably, going to clean it up so there’s that sort of understanding. When you’re in a centre-half pairing or three at the back, then you need to have a good telepathy and need to play with each other for quite some time.
“Bitton, is he a centre-half? He has been playing there, he did a trick in the Scotland game where he did a double shuffle with the ball under his studs and I thought: ‘Wow, that was quite a spectacular movement,’ he’ll probably be on Soccer AM getting the plaudits for that but defenders doing that in their own box? The manager will be seeing his life flashing before his eyes.
“He’s a good player but I’m not sure Bitton is the answer to Celtic’s centre-back area. Cover, yes, but I would have thought that others would be more secure in that job. I know that Duffy’s had some problems getting his sharpness but he’s played in internationals now, so I’m sure he would have had a confidence booster from that as well.”