NIR BITTON was on the verge of quitting Celtic before a heart-to-heart talk with Ronny Deila saved his season.

Since that crucial chat, the Israeli has become a midfield mainstay in Charlie Mulgrew’s absence since the start of December, starting 23 of the past 25 games.

However, the 23-year-old playmaker admitted he was frustrated by the lack of top team action earlier in the season and was convinced his future lay away from Parkhead. He also revealed he had made up his mind to leave during the January window.

Bitton said: “When I wasn’t playing, the first thing I did was blame the coach. But when I spoke to him I learned a lot.

“I suddenly understood what was expected of me. It’s something you need to understand, that the gaffer only does what’s best for the team.

“So, when you don’t play, you have to ask yourself what you’re not doing well enough. WHY are you not playing? After that conversation, I got it.”

He added: “When you don’t play your energies go down. You can train 10 times a day, but it’s not the same as getting a game.

“In the beginning, when I didn’t play, for two or three months, I was thinking: ‘Okay, what should I do now to go forward? Maybe move for another challenge’.

“I’m a Celtic player, but you need to think about yourself when you don’t play.

“So you think: ‘Where can I go now where I’ll play and get game time? Okay, I’ll move on in January, I’ll find another club’.

“I didn’t think to speak to the manager, so that’s what I thought in the beginning.

“But the easiest thing is to go to the gaffer, ask why, listen, and then try to improve.

“Afterwards, if you see it hasn’t helped, then you can move forward. So, I asked for the conversation because, as I said, I was blaming him. It’s the easiest thing to do.

“It’s not my fault, it’s the gaffer’s fault. If he want’s me to play, great. If he doesn’t, fine.

“So, the best thing is to speak to him and find out what he wants because sometimes it’s so
easy to fix these things.

“I’m happy I did it. He explained to me why I wasn’t playing. It was a lot of things. What was said will stay between us, but it came down to what was expected of me.

“I got the chance to change it and I’m happy that I’ve kept my place in the team.

“When you play for Celtic there’s always competition for your place, especially in the midfield where we have four or five very good players.

“So, every time the gaffer gives me the chance to play I’ll do the best I can to show him I deserve to start.

“Am I a better player or just the same guy now? It’s a combination.

“I’m a different player as I’m trying to do things I didn’t do before, but when you play you have confidence and you can do things you didn’t do before.

“Sometimes when you’re not playing these things seem hard, but when your confidence is up they’re so easy.”

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