CELTIC are ready to charter more private planes for their stars to avoid even more Covid carnage.
Hoops boss Neil Lennon admits he’s dreading the upcoming break as he fears it could wreck his ten-in-a-row plans.
Celtic boss Neil Lennon[/caption]
Lennon was denied the services of Odsonne Edouard, Ryan Christie, Hatem Elhamed and Nir Bitton amid Covid-19 chaos during the last round of Euro play-offs and Nations League games.
With Christie, Callum McGregor and Greg Taylor set to be involved in Scotland’s play-off final with Serbia and half of his squad also away next week, he’s already making contingency plans.
The Parkhead club arranged a private jet for £5million keeper Vasilis Barkas last month after Greece’s Nations League clash with Kosovo.
Lennon said: “With Barkas, they were going to shut the airport in Greece because they had a strike over there, and we got him back on a private plane.
Vasilis Barkas used a private plane to get home from Greece[/caption]
“It’s not ideal, but it’s something we can look at.
“It’s a big undertaking when you’ve got maybe 15 or 16 players away, but we desperately want to avoid a repeat of what happened the last time.
“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.”
Celtic plan to hold talks with the respective nations of their international players regarding alternative travel arrangements.
Lennon said: “It’s difficult. We can speak with the associations and say, ‘can you give us a bit of leeway here?’.
Odsonne Edouard tested positive for Covid during the last international break[/caption]
“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.
“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.
“Bitton did fine for half an hour the other night, Odsonne came through it okay, so hopefully these boys and Ryan, who had two weeks in a room on his own, will get stronger as we go along.”
All three are in the squad to face Aberdeen at Hampden this afternoon although Celtic will be without Kristoffer Ajer for the foreseeable future.
The Norwegian limped out of Thursday’s 2-2 draw with Lille in the Europa League.
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Lennon said: “We haven’t got clarity on the extent of the injury. He’s to go for a scan so we’ll know more when we get the results back.
“I think it’s safe to say he won’t play on Sunday. He just felt something go in his groin and he couldn’t continue.
“He was very stiff on the plane on the way back. We won’t be able to determine how long he’s out for until we get the scan results.
“He’s been playing really well. I just think it’s a culmination of a lot of games, a bit of muscle fatigue in there.”
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Long-term absentee James Forrest will go under the knife this week in a bid to fix his broken ankle.
Lennon added: “He requires surgery, so that will hopefully take place next week and get that tidied up but he’ll be out for a period of time.
“I don’t know how long, it will depend on how successful the surgery is. It’s a stress fracture in the ankle.”
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