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Nir Bitton has told Celtic TV he feels Ange Postecoglou has helped to raise his game back to the levels he reached five-years ago, as the Bhoys prepare to visit Bayer Leverkusen.

Postecoglou has fielded the Israel international 15 times since taking charge at Parkhead in June. He also handed the midfielder his first Europa League group stage start last time out.

Bitton gained a key role in the Postecoglou’s plans after Celtic lost Tom Rogic to injury last month. The Australian is unlikely to return for Thursday night’s clash away to Die Werkself.

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Postecoglou will hope Bitton marshals the Hoops engine room as well in Germany as he did on Saturday. He never shied from a physical battle during their League Cup semi-final win over St Johnstone, as his experience and composure came to the front at Hampden Park.

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The £14k-a-week anchor is relishing playing under Postecoglou after a bit-part season last term. He featured just 21 times all campaign and only started 18 games in all competitions.

Bitton now feels he is again operating at the levels he reached with Celtic five-years ago, as the Hoops visit Bayer Leverkusen likely needing a win to continue in the Europa League.

“I feel like I’m back in the 2015/16 season,” Bitton said. “I feel good, but I’ve said before: whenever I get the opportunity to play, I will do my best for the team to justify the faith the manager has given me.

“It’s not about myself, it’s all about the team and if we play well, that’s more important.”

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Bitton issues personal target for Celtic trip to Bayer Leverkusen

Bitton has additionally issued a personal target for Celtic’s trip to Bayer Leverkusen in their fifth Europa League group stage match of the season.

The 30-year-old hopes to make an impact by scoring a long-range goal at the BayArena, knowing he can create danger.

“Hopefully, I can hit one tomorrow. If not, then the fans need to be careful because usually it’s going row Z! But if one of them hits the target, then it’s going to be dangerous,” he said.

Bitton is yet to score so far this season and only struck home once last term. He has also only assisted once in 15 games under Postecoglou, but failed to provide any in 2020/21.

The 38-cap international scored eight and assisted six goals in 46 games during the 2015/16 campaign. He has failed to score more than once in every season since.

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