'Just give me it' - Celtic star jokes that Callum McGregor should step aside as captain

Nir Bitton captained Celtic to a notable 3-2 victory over Real Betis on Thursday night.

Nir Bitton wore the Celtic captain's armband in the 3-2 win over Real Betis. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)
Nir Bitton wore the Celtic captain's armband in the 3-2 win over Real Betis. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

That has led the Israel international to joke that Callum McGregor should step aside and hand over the armband after the usual skipper was rested for the dead rubber Europa League group clash at Celtic Park.

"One game, one win," Bitton said. "Just give me it.

"No, it was a real privilege for me. I was really honoured to captain this amazing club.

"It's just another milestone for me. I'm almost nine years here and I really love this club, everything about this club."

Bitton believes Celtic's fringe players proved against Betis that the squad can deal with whatever comes their way during their hectic schedule.

Celtic suffered a major injury blow against the Spaniards when strikers Kyogo Furuhashi and Albian Ajeti went off with hamstring injuries.

With Giorgos Giakoumakis working his way back from minor knee surgery, Ange Postecoglou is set to be without any recognised first-team striker when Celtic host Motherwell on Sunday in the cinch Premiership.

Key winger Jota is also missing for several weeks and both James Forrest and Anthony Ralston were unavailable for Thursday's Europa League game, to join long-term absentees Christopher Jullien and Karamoko Dembele on the sidelines.

Celtic have seven more games before the winter break begins in early January but Bitton is not shying away from the challenge.

"I think if you ask any footballer in the world what he would rather do, whether it's train all week or play three games in a week, everyone would say three games in a week," the Israel international said.

"It's a very busy schedule for us this month but we have to deal with it.

"We have a good squad with a lot of quality and we have to deal with everything that comes our way, whether it be injuries or suspensions, anything. We have to deal with everything and make sure we finish this month as strongly as possible."

Postecoglou made 11 changes for Celtic's final Europa League game and could not have asked for much more after his side beat Betis 3-2.

Former Sheffield Wednesday pair Liam Shaw and Osaze Urhoghide made impressive debuts, having obviously made significant progress in training since their pre-season outings.

And 21-year-old midfielder Ewan Henderson scored his first Celtic goal in his first appearance of the season after replacing fellow substitute Furuhashi.

Bitton feels the players who featured all showed they could step up and play more regularly if needed.

"I think we all showed that," he said. "We were playing against a decent side. They are third in La Liga, the team they put out was quite strong and we coped with that really well.

"Our squad is good, our squad is strong, we believe in each other. We have a system which we try to work with every single day and even the guys who haven't played much since the beginning of the season came in and did an amazing job."

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