Nir Bitton: Celtic midfielder tests positive for coronavirus while on international duty

Bitton played for Israel against Scotland in their Euro 2020 play-off on Thursday

Nir Bitton

Celtic midfielder Nir Bitton has tested positive for coronavirus while on international duty with Israel.

Bitton played against Scotland in the Euro 2020 play-offs on Thursday despite Celtic manager Neil Lennon claiming an ankle injury made it impossible for him to be involved.

The 28-year-old is set to join Scotland midfielder Ryan Christie in self-isolating during the visit of Rangers to Celtic Park next weekend, while Odsonne Edouard is a major doubt after testing positive while away with France U21s.

Celtic confirmed Bitton had returned a positive test on Friday, ahead of Israel's home Nations League clash with the Czech Republic, who themselves initially travelled with only nine players following another outbreak in their camp.

The Scottish champions said in a statement: "We send our sincere best wishes to Nir and any other players or staff affected within the Israel squad.

"We are in constant dialogue with Nir and look forward to him returning safely to the Celtic squad as soon as possible.

"Clearly, recent events during this international period are very concerning and frustrating. We have worked tirelessly to ensure a safe and secure working environment and since testing has begun our players and medical staff have done a brilliant job in very difficult circumstances.

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"Although we will never be complacent, throughout our own club testing programme, our squad has returned around 2,000 individual negative tests since the outbreak of the pandemic, with not one positive test.

"The current situation has presented huge challenges for all within football and wider society which we do not underestimate in any way.

"While we apportion no blame whatsoever to anyone, this is now a very difficult position for us and, clearly, for all other clubs. Like all other clubs, we must do all we can to protect our squad and limit the very clear and obvious risks to players.

"Under FIFA regulations, clubs are obliged to release players for international duty.

"We will be maintaining close contact with international associations in order to ensure everything possible is being done with regards to the care and protection of our players. The priority must be the safety of our players at all times.

"For clarification, all members of the Celtic squad who continue to train at Lennoxtown during this period have again ALL returned negative tests yesterday."

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