Celtic boss Neil Lennon agrees with decision to make keeper-less St Mirren play

Parkhead manager is keen for the league to press on and says ‘we can’t keep stopping and starting’

Saturday, 12th September 2020, 10:30 pm
Neil Lennon's Celtic face St Mirren in the Premiership in midweek. Picture: Bill Murray/SNS

Clubs being required to cope with sudden, enforced absenteeism in their team set-ups is something Neil Lennon believes will have to be accepted as a fact of football life in this Covid-19 season.

Celtic could be beneficiaries of the vagaries of the pandemic age when they travel to Paisley on Wednesday after St Mirren had all three of their goalkeepers missing for the meeting with Hibernian yesterday afternoon because of the virus and the guidelines surrounding it.

Celtic: Get the latest team news, match previews and reports

Celtic: Get the latest team news, match previews and reports

Scotland last week were the beneficiaries of the Czech Republic requiring to cobble together a whole new squad and coaching team as a result of two players testing positive.

Lennon believes there is a balance to be struck but, if this season is not to fray at the seams, he maintains all efforts should be made to ensure rounds of fixtures can be stitched together.

Not least because players cannot shut themselves away in a 
bio-secure bubble and emerge only to train and play. They inevitably will remain vulnerable to the virus because they have partners, children and family whose daily existence puts them into contact with others.

“Covid affects people in different ways but the majority of people seem to be asymptomatic,” Lennon said. “My own personal view is that just because two St Mirren players got it, there’s no reason to shut the whole thing down. If the rest of the squad is fit and healthy we’re OK to carry on unless it spreads like wildfire through the club [before Wednesday].

“The Scotland game probably isn’t the best example because the Czechs had to replenish the whole team and coaching staff. I thought that was a bit excessive but you have to follow the rules. It’s a difficult one. If someone gets seriously ill through it in the football environment, it will obviously be taken very seriously. But for the majority of players and staff, we’re fit and healthy.

“We have to progress now. We can’t keep stopping and starting otherwise we’ll never get the game off the ground. As a manager, it’s just another facet you have to deal with. Our physio Tim Williamson [pictured inset] does a great amount of work on the protocols that are in place. We’ve had several rounds of testing without one positive result yet so our procedures have been exemplary at the training ground and stadium.

“We’re hoping it won’t be forever but at the moment, it’s a little bit of sacrifice and discipline we’ll need to adhere to, to make sure we get playing with the season up and running. We’re a hostage to fortune but you have to put that out of your mind, in terms of what might happen further down the line.

“It’s outwith anyone’s control, really. Sometimes it’s excessive the way people are behaving towards it. And that’s not me being blasé about the whole thing. In the main, the public’s behaviour has been exemplary during the pandemic.

“You’ve still got to live your life. Wearing a mask is no hardship, really. The problem is, people see certain people behaving a certain way and others get their backs up because they see people not following the rules and protocols. We probably need to set an example by doing that but we’ve had a huge amount of testing and not a positive result yet.

“We want to build momentum now and make up for lost ground. Potentially, we’ve got six games coming up between now and the international break. Ideally, we want to get our teeth into it now because it’s been a bit stop start so far.”

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