CELTIC manager Neil Lennon has revealed that he is hoping to tie up Nir Bitton on an extended contract with the club as soon as possible.

Lennon has been hugely impressed by the form of the Israeli so far this season, and while he was disappointed to see him limp out of the recent win over Rangers at Ibrox, he has been heartened by the news that his absence from the first-team should only be a short one.

Bitton played at centre-half in that victory, and the level of performance he has been able to produce either there or in his preferred midfield position has convinced Lennon he is a key figure in his squad.

With his contract up at the end of this season, Lennon is keen to ramp up talks to get him to put pen to paper as soon as he possibly can.

“Nir will probably be out until the end of the month,” said Lennon. “So, it’s not too bad considering it’s a hamstring strain with Nir.

“I was delighted with the way he was playing, he’s been outstanding whether he has played in midfield or at centre-half.

“Sometimes he can be a bit too composed! But from what I’ve seen of him lately, he’s been absolutely superb. There’s a maturity about him as well that has pleased me.

“Obviously we know about his contract situation and that’s something we’ll be looking to change as we go along too. Hopefully we can get it sorted soon.”

Lennon has also revealed that Mikey Johnston will also be out for a similar period of time as Bitton, with the winger expected to return to action around the end of September.

Tom Rogic will be back in contention for today’s trip to Hamilton along with defender Kristoffer Ajer, but Leigh Griffiths may once again have to sit the game out as he continues his long quest to regain full fitness.

Lennon admits that last week’s international break came too soon for his striker, and he doesn’t know how long it will take for Griffiths to get back to the level he was before his prolonged absence from football last season.

“He’s still working away at it,” he said. “He’s not playing regularly for us yet so I think he needs to try to get into our team on a regular basis before he starts thinking about Scotland. To be fair to him he is working away and doing quite well. But for me he’s still got a bit of work to do to get back to where he was.”