Neil Lennon must have been fuming when the international manager ignored his advice by giving a start to the Celtic star who was injured just last week.
As a manager of a club or country, the pressure is always on you to produce results. It is perhaps the least secure job in all of football where a string of bad results can get you the sack. Neil Lennon would know that better than anyone as the Celtic manager, where the pressure is always turned up a notch to produce constant results. But even then, Lennon must be livid with Isreal manager Willi Ruttensteiner for giving a start to Nir Bitton.
This comes only a week after Bitton was forced off the pitch against FK Sarajevo in Celtic Europa League qualifier and Lennon was concerned about his availability for the upcoming Glasgow Derby. As a result, Ruttensteiner made a controversial decision of calling him up to the first team.
As reported by Glasgow Live, Lennon’s original assessment had Bitton missing three to four weeks of action:
“Nir’s badly twisted his ankle. There’s swelling, so we need to wait and see. But he’s out for Sunday and certainly out for the qualifiers as well. Hopefully, it won’t be too long, just three or four weeks.”
The incident received a lot of coverage in the Scottish media. And now Ruttensteiner has taken it one step further by giving Bitton a start against Scotland in their UEFA Euro qualifier.
This will clearly leave Neil Lennon angry as it just increases Bitton’s chances of picking up a long-term injury, something which would be a huge blow to Celtic as he has put in brilliant performances at centre-back this season.
At this one can only hope that the Israel boss has taken the decision to play Bitton as he has recovered from his injury and not because of the high stakes of the game. Pressure can make people take bad decisions, hopefully this is not one of them. Celtic have already had enough bad luck this international break.