Sutton: It would be 'madness' for Celtic to select this first-team duo in CL group stages
By Harry Sykes
Chris Sutton has claimed it would be “madness” for Celtic to play Nir Bitton and Kristoffer Ajer in defence in the Champions League group stages.
Midfielder Bitton has been deployed as an emergency centre-back during the early weeks of the season, including in tandem with Norwegian rookie Ajer.
But former Hoops striker Sutton is convinced the pair are not up to the task of keeping some of the world’s top forwards at bay in Europe’s elite competition.
Celtic will face Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain and Anderlecht in the six-fixture group stage before Christmas in what promises to be a series of mouthwatering contests.
Writing in his weekly Daily Record column, Sutton expressed his concern that his former side do not have the defensive personnel able to cope with the planet’s most fearsome front men.
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“The next few days will be vital in the transfer market,” said pundit Sutton. “Defensive issues simply have to be addressed. If we didn’t know it before Astana, we do now.
“Honestly, despite a 5-0 first-leg win, there was actually a tiny spell at 4-1 down for Celtic in Kazakhstan when you wondered if they’d go out.
“Nir Bitton and Kristoffer Ajer helped through the qualifiers at key times, but they can’t be playing in the group stages against the likes of Neymar, Cavani and Robert Lewandowski. That’s just madness.”
Celtic’s senior centre-back trio Jozo Simunovic, Erik Sviatchenko and Dedryck Boyata have all suffered injuries during the new season, although they are now close to full fitness.
In other Celtic transfer news, a mega-rich Champions League club have launched a £10million bid to sign a 23-year-old at Parkhead.