DEDRYCK BOYATA has revealed the part he has played in the emergence of Nir Bitton as a central defender.

The Israeli international midfielder has slotted in at the back with Jozo Simunovic and Erik Sviatchenko both sidelined by injury.

Bitton could face his sternest test this evening when Bayern Munich visit Parkhead on Matchday Four of Champions League Group B.

Boyata said: “How much have I been helping Nir? A lot!

LC_HIBS_CELTIC_ 1228_preview

“I love Nir. He is a very good player. It’s different for him to play centre-back, but it’s something he can learn.

“When I play alongside him I shout at him. I usually lose my voice in a game. But, game after game, he just gets better and better.

“If he does play there, I have 100 per cent confidence in Nir.


“However, it must be difficult for him. I would find it difficult being asked to play in midfield. But he is great on the ball, shows confidence and is 100 per cent always focused.

“He will be ready to play against Bayern Munich. I agreed with the manager that the criticism was too much after Astana.

“As a team, we needed him to play there. If the manager needed me to play as a striker I would do it and I would try as hard as I can to score goals. But it’s difficult.

“You just need to keep learning and improving. He is always asking me questions. We talk all the time and with the manager as well.”

Boyata admitted Celtic let themselves down when they lost 3-0 in the Allianz Arena two weeks ago, but he said: “We weren’t happy with ourselves, but we have a big opportunity in front of our fans. We have prepared well and we’re ready.

“It’s not just defensively where we have to improve. It’s the general performance. We have to try to play our game and not be afraid.”

Star striker Robert Lewandowski hasn’t travelled to Glasgow, which is a huge blow to the German giants.

But Boyata said: “It doesn’t really change anything for us. With or without him, this game was always going to be very tough for us.

“Arturo Vidal has played as a false No.9 for them before so that could be the solution.

LC_HIBS_CELTIC_ 1027_preview

“Top strikers like Lewandowski don’t really like contact with defenders. As a centre-back you always need to be alert because they are constantly trying to find space to make things difficult for us.

“They’re moving all the time. That will be the case this time. They’ll just rotate the strikers and the No.10 so it doesn’t change what we have to do.

“Lewandowski is an important player for them and they might have a slightly different approach, but our job will stay the same – we need to stay focused.”

Bayern chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge claimed the Polish hitman would have travelled if they had been facing Real Madrid.

There was more than a hint of lack of respect for the Hoops, but Boyata added: “I don’t even want to comment on that.

“We could be playing against Bayern’s reserve team, but we’d still have to win the game.

“We just want to play as well as we can and show a better side of ourselves than we did in Germany, so I don’t really care what their general manager has to say.”

BRENDAN RODGERS – The Road to Paradise is available now from CQNBookstore.com and for the first 100 sold on the bookstore we will include a free gift.

Available now at CQN bookstore.com

Click Here for Comments >

About Author