NEIL LENNON has challenged Nir Bitton to finally fulfil his potential after he signed a new deal yesterday that will keep him at the club until the summer of 2023.

The 28-year-old was signed by Lennon from Ashdod back in 2013, and the Celtic manager is a huge fan of the versatile Israeli, who is a midfielder by trade but can also operate in central defence.

Lennon believes there is still more to come from Bitton though, who spent a year out with an ACL injury before returning to the side towards the end of last season, telling his player he must now take more responsibility on his shoulders during games.

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“I’m delighted,” said Lennon. “I like him a lot and he is coming into his peak years. He knows the club and has been here for a while.

“He has had a few injury problems but when he has played for me since I came back, he has been absolutely excellent. The contract gives him that security now and he can really concentrate on his future here.

“He has fulfilled his potential to a point but there is more to come. I think he can take more responsibility at times.

“He is talented and powerful. He’s playing really well after returning from his last injury. I thought he was excellent against Hibs on Sunday.

“Before the injury, his performances against Stockholm and against Rangers at Ibrox were really, really good.

“He’s good around the club as well, really popular with the boys, so we are very pleased.”

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Bitton played at centre-back in the defeat to Cluj last week as well as on the right of a back three in Sunday’s win over Hibernian, and Lennon is delighted to have such a versatile option within his squad.

“He can play a few roles really well,” he said. “Ultimately, I see him as a midfield player, but when he slots in at centre half it’s seamless for him.”