Celtic planning talks with associations over Covid-19 fears in forthcoming international break

Celtic will hold talks with national associations as they seek to avoid the chaos that ensued for them from the last international break.

Celtic's Odsonne Edouard departs Glasgow for France ahead of the Europa League encounter against Lille on Thursday (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)
Celtic's Odsonne Edouard departs Glasgow for France ahead of the Europa League encounter against Lille on Thursday (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

The club’s international players are scheduled to head off with their countries for another such fortnight following Celtic’s trip to Motherwell next Sunday.

Neil Lennon admits there are deep concerns over this break on the back of Odsonne Edouard, Nir Bitton and Hatem Abd Elhamed all testing positive for Covid-19 while on international duty last month.

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

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

Ryan Christie, meanwhile, was rendered unavailable for the derby that followed this international window through being judged a close contact at the Scotland camp of Stuart Armstrong, who also tested positive for the virus.

“It's difficult,” the Celtic manager said. “We can parley with the associations and say, 'can you give us a bit of leeway here?' Whether that falls on deaf ears is another thing.

“But there's no doubt that the damage that was done, losing four players, through no fault of our own was difficult to take and slowly but surely we are getting them back, but you can see even in the throes of the game they are not fully match fit. Maybe the virus can take more out of you than you first thought. In Lille, Bitton did fine for the half-hour, Odsonne came through it OK, so hopefully these boys and Ryan, who had two weeks in a room on his own, will get stronger as we go along.

"But it's a major concern when they go away again. We've been pretty stringent inside our own bubble and have had no positive tests for a long, long time.”

Lennon was asked if it was possible to put contingencies in place. The number of internationals involved, and the global spread of their destinations, would appear to limit any such plans.

"It’s something we can look at it,” the Celtic manager said. “In terms of [Vasilis] Barkas, they were going to shut the sirport in Greece, they were having a strike over there and we had to get him back on a private plane. That's not ideal. It's a big undertaking when you have got maybe 15/16 players away. We desperately want to avoid a repeat of what happened the last time.”

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