BRENDAN RODGERS has revealed he is in no rush to buy a new centre-half and believes Celtic have enough strength in depth to reach the Champions League group stage.
Erik Sviatchenko limped home on crutches after sustaining a first-half injury in the 1-0 midweek win over Rosenborg in Trondheim that booked the Hoops’ place in today’s play-off draw in Switzerland.
The Dane faces the possibility of an extended lay-off and will undergo further tests on his damaged knee.
Fellow-central defender Dedryck Boyata will be on the sidelines until next month.
Rodgers, though, dismissed the notion of signing a replacement before Monday’s Champions League play-off round signing deadline.
He insisted: “We won’t be getting someone in. We have Nir Bitton who can play there.
“If we are talking about Scottish football and the ball getting smashed up the pitch, then you can have two big guys who can head it.
“But we are not playing that way. We can cope. We have Kristoffer Ajer who’s 6ft 5ins, but he can play. We’ll have Boyata back in September, And Mikael Lustig can play there, too.
“We don’t need to worry about a centre half.”
Sviatchenko – a pre-match injury doubt in Norway – lasted 25 minutes in the Lerkendal Stadium before being replaced by Israeli midfielder Bitton, who fitted in comfortably beside Jozo Simunovic.
Rodgers added: “Of course, Erik comes back and then has to go off and you’re thinking: ‘Okay, this could go in to extra-time and if you’ve used your subs you could be left with 10 men’.
“We had the choice. We are a team that likes to dominate – so that’s why we didn’t have the extra centre-half on the field.
“I thought Bitton was outstanding against Rosenborg. He had composure and, at 6ft 4ins, he can compete in the air.
“He’s a very, very good player. He’s a controlling player, but in that role we have Scott Brown and we have Eboue Kouassi, who is a big talent.
“But I like to have a midfielder who can play centre-half. That allows the team to play through and get more attackers on the field.
“Bitton is top class in his work. He’s very good for our squad, he can play a number of positions and he understands how I want to work.
“He’s someone the players like and showed his importance the other night.”
Meanwhile listen to the new CQN Podcast below, it really is worth taking the time.
This edition features a hard hitting introduction from Paul Dykes on the cheating and also a look back at The Celts for Change Years, which will remind you where we were as a football club in the nineties.