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Nir Bitton is likely to be out of action for the rest of the season, Brendan Rodgers revealed as he assessed Celtic’s injury-blighted squad prior to Thursday’s Europa League meeting with Zenit St Petersburg at Parkhead in the first leg of their round of 32 tie. The Israeli midfielder joins a casualty list that would constitute the better part of a decent domestic team, as the Celtic manager acknowledged wryly when he said: “They could have won a treble last year!”
Others out of contention are Craig Gordon, Anthony Ralston, Dedryck Boyata, Stuart Armstrong, Patrick Roberts, Johnny Hayes and Leigh Griffiths. Tom Rogic has been named in the Celtic squad but will not start and could yet be held back for the visit of St Johnstone on Sunday. Marvin Compper is ineligible.
“Overall, this year has been – in terms of injuries – tough,” Rodgers said. “Nir Bitton will probably be out for the season which is a blow for us. He has an issue with his knee and probably needs an operation and that is probably him for the rest of the season. It is a shame for Nir because he has been an important member of our squad.
“We are hoping some of the others will be back sooner rather than later.”
Roberts, on loan from Manchester City, has gone back to his parent club to have a troublesome hamstring injury monitored. Griffiths aside, the forward areas of the team are relatively unscathed, in terms of those who could command a regular starting place, but the Hoops defence is a serious concern, especially against a Zenit side who finished the group stage as top scorers in the competition with 17 goals.