Nir Bitton: Celtic midfielder feared for career amid 11-month knee injury lay-off

Nir Bitton celebrates a Celtic goal against Hearts
Nir Bitton has started Celtic's past two matches, away victories over Hearts and Hibernian

Celtic midfielder Nir Bitton admits he feared he may never return from a long-term knee injury.

The Israel international, 27, made his comeback after an 11-month lay-off in January and has since made seven appearances.

Bitton says he "tried to stay positive" during his spell on the sidelines.

"Obviously you have this thought in your mind, especially if it's your first long-term injury - you don't know what to expect," he added.

"The medical staff were always positive with me, always optimistic and tried to lift my morale and I didn't really think about it but it was in my mind. But I tried to stay positive and stay focused on coming back."

'We don't think about the future right now'

Neil Lennon has returned to Celtic as manager until the end of the season following the departure to Leicester City of Brendan Rodgers.

The Northern Irishman has won both matches in charge - against Hearts in the Scottish Premiership and Hibernian in the Scottish Cup - to keep Celtic on course for a third straight domestic treble.

Bitton says "everyone is happy with Neil", who signed him in 2013, and insists his focus is on winning more trophies, not who occupies the manager's role next term.

"Neil is a big character, he worked at Celtic before with a lot of the players in the current squad and everyone respects him. We just want to win trophies and titles, that is what the club is all about. We don't think about the future right now," he added.

"Obviously we had an unbelievable two-and-a-half years with Brendan, enjoyed every moment. He was one of the best coaches that I worked with and I wish him the best.

"But now we work with Neil and Neil is a top manager as well. It's all about the team and how we keep going, keep winning games, keep winning trophies and this is our main target."

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