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BITTON’S FITNESS BATTLE

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NIR BITTON is facing a fight to be fit for Wednesday’s make-or-break Champions League qualifier against Astana at Parkhead.

The elegant midfielder injured an ankle in a clash with Barcelona’s Arda Tutan in the opening minute of the game in Dublin on Saturday, but played on until the interval.

Bitton will have a scan today to confirm the extent of the injury – Brendan Rodgers fears he has damaged his medial ligament – but the 24-year-old Israeli international is reluctant to rule himself out.

He said: “To be honest, the first 10 seconds I felt I couldn’t stay on. But then, when your body’s warm and the adrenalin is going, it’s a big game and you what to play, I carried on.

“Maybe I should’ve gone off. But I didn’t want to. Hopefully, I’ll be okay for Wednesday. It’s still a bit swollen and we will have to wait and see.”

Bitton is the latest in a long list of casualties for Brendan Rodgers to contend with. Central defenders Erik Sviatchenko, Jozo Simunovic and Dedryck Boyata are out while left-back Kieran Tierney missed the Barca game as a precaution.

Thirty-five-year-old Ivorian centre-half Kolo Toure, signed nine days ago after being released by Liverpool in the summer, could be pitched into the tie against the Kazakhstans, despite having no game-time since his arrival.

Bitton insisted he would play through the pain barrier. He added: “If it was my decision, then I would play like that. But it’s not my decision. It’s not about me – it’s about the team.

“If I don’t think I can help the team and if I’m not 100 per cent fit, then it’s not fair to the other players for me to play.”

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