Date: 5th July 2018 at 7:01pm
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Celtic are busy preparing for their first competitive action of the 2018/19 campaign.

Initially facing Alashkert next Tuesday in Armenia, fans are hoping their heroes will reach the big time of the UEFA Champions League group stages for the third successive season.

However, they’ll have to do so without the presence of the Israeli midfielder Nir Bitton.

Speaking to The Scottish Sun, manager Brendan Rodgers has confirmed the player won’t be returning early from a knee operation he underwent way back in February.

The Israeli international is out of action until September, which is the original time frame of his recovery given to the club by doctors.

Bitton is one of the more experienced members of the Celtic first team squad, making 171 appearances for the club in all competitions. 27 of those have come in UEFA Champions League action, so losing him is clearly a blow to the depth of the squad available to the manager.

The 26-year-old has shown great versatility over the last 12 months with his ability to play both in midfield and defence, giving Rodgers more options when others have had to drop out.

With Dedryck Boyata and Mikael Lustig still at the World Cup, Jonny Hayes also injured and Stuart Armstrong leaving the club, the squad is looking a little thin heading into the crucial European gauntlet.

However, the Hoops boss did confirm that Lewis Morgan will be available for selection next week despite picking up a minor injury in Austria.

Are you worried about the state of the squad heading into the European qualifiers? Let us know in the comments below…

 

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