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‘WHY WE WILL STAY FOCUSED,’ BITTON

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CELTIC’S Israeli midfelder Nir Bitton admits: “Football is better than digging holes in the road.”

The Hoops play their 33th competitive game of the season against Hearts at Tynecastle tomorrow in a gruelling campaign.

However, Bitton remains unfazed and insisted: “I think a lot of people look at us and say: ‘He’s a footballer, he doesn’t do much’.

“But you work hard. You are not outside working in the cold all the time, or working with your hands, but you are still working hard and you have to make a lot of sacrifices in life.

“I think people on the outside take what we do for granted. They say: ‘Oh, Celtic are playing Hamilton so they should be winning 4-0 at half time’. But it’s not like that. It’s never easy.

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“All the teams we face want to take our unbeaten run. We’ve lost more points this season than last season. It’s difficult this time.

“The amount of games we are having to play is crazy. Some of our boys have played over 30 matches and it’s not yet January.

“But you need to enjoy that, deal with it and make sure your body is ready.

“You don’t have much time to rest between games, but I think it’s better. It’s easier. The ones who haven’t played always have a hard session after matches because you never know who is going to play in the next one.

“That creates a good mentality because everyone is pushing to start and fighting for their place. For those who are playing regularly, it means that we aren’t training so often.”

The champions face Hearts tomorrow, then Partick Thistle at Firhill, Aberdeen at home, Dundee on Boxing Day and then Sevco Rangers at Parkhead.

The players then get a week off before heading to Dubai for warm weather training.

Bitton added: “Last season, we went into the winter break after beating Rangers (sic) 2-1 and everyone was saying: ‘Their run is going to end’.

“But the break gave us the opportunity to spend time together in Dubai with the new guys. Since we came back from there we were unbelievably brilliant. It was just enjoyable.”

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A Celtic State of Mind presents its 27th instalment of insightful discussion around the culture of Celtic Football Club, the city of Glasgow, and fans of the reigning invincible Scottish champions.

Paul John Dykes and Kevin Graham are joined by Wembley hero, Jim McCalliog, whose winning goal against England in the 3-2 win in 1967 has gone down in folklore.

Jim takes us a walk down memory lane and looks back on a remarkable career that took in spells at Leeds United, Chelsea, Wolves, Southampton, Sheffield Wednesday and Manchester United.

Jim also lifts the lid on the reason behind his refusal to sign for his boyhood heroes, Celtic, when Sean Fallon came calling.

The CQN Podcast has gone from strength-to-strength over the last few months, and there are many more guests lined up in the months ahead from the world of sport, music, film, art, broadcasting, literature and politics.

Connect with A Celtic State of Mind @PaulDykes, @thecqnpodcast and @CQNMagazine and subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or through your podcast player.

Listen the latest Podcast on CQN at the bottom of every article published – and there are many every single day of the year!

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