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Celtic in Covid chaos as Neil Lennon and 13 players forced to self-isolate with Hibs game still going ahead

CELTIC face a Covid crisis after THIRTEEN players were forced to self-isolate following Christopher Jullien’s positive case.

And boss Neil Lennon and assistant manager John Kennedy have also been told to stay at home.

Kenny Ramsay - The Sun Glasgow
Celtic are meant to host Hibs tonight at Parkhead[/caption]

It comes just days after the Hoops returned from their controversial trip to Dubai.

The Parkhead giants confirmed they plan to fulfil tonight’s fixture against Hibs despite being without several key personnel. 

SunSport understands reserve coaches Tommy McIntyre and Stephen McManus will be helping Gavin Strachan in the dugout. 

A host of reserve players have also been called-up, with Karamoko Dembele, Armstrong Oko-Flex and Cameron Harper among them.

A club statement confirmed: “Celtic Football Club confirmed today that Christopher Jullien has tested positive for Covid-19 and is self-isolating at home. We wish Christopher a speedy recovery.

“While all of the other members of the squad and backroom team have tested negative, we have been informed by the authorities that, having been deemed ‘close contacts’, Celtic manager Neil Lennon, assistant John Kennedy and 13 first-team players will be required to self-isolate on a precautionary basis as required by the current regulations.

“The Club would like to thank the Scottish FA, JRG and the Scottish Government for their assistance in managing this case. Celtic will, of course, fulfil its fixture against Hibernian this evening.

“Clearly we are hugely disappointed, as we know our supporters will be.

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PA:Press Association
Celtic defender Christopher Jullien has tested positive for coronavirus[/caption]

“The contacts were identified during the period from Wednesday last week, primarily around flight and team coach travel, during which time Celtic applied the same rigorous protocols used for pre-season training camps, UEFA match travel and for all domestic match arrangements in Scotland.

“These protocols have served us well in the past, as the Club has not had one positive case in our own ‘bubble’ until now.

“As we have already stated, Celtic’s decision to travel to Dubai for a training camp was for performance reasons.

“Whilst we were in Dubai, the announcements made on January 4 significantly changed the COVID landscape.  

“The reality is that a case could well have occurred had the team remained in Scotland, as other cases have done in Scottish football and across UK sport in the past week.

“Celtic has done everything it can to ensure we have in place the very best procedures and protocols.

“From the outset of the pandemic, Celtic has worked closely with the Scottish Government and Scottish football and we will continue to do so.”

Scotland’s travel corridor with the desert state slammed shut last night as a 10-day quarantine for returning travellers was put in place.

Speaking today, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “It’s impossible for me to talk about Dubai today without making some mention of the situation with Celtic Football Club.

“I can’t tell you how disappointed and frustrating I am to be facing another briefing that may, though this is of course up to journalists, be dominated by football.

“Football and elite sport more generally enjoys a number of privileges right now that the rest of us don’t have.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon admits she doubts Celtic’s trip to Dubai was essential

“These privileges include the right to go to overseas training camps and be exempt from quarantine on return.

“It is really vital, obviously for public health reasons, but I also think out of respect for the rest of the population living under really heavy restrictions, that these privileges are not abused.

“I know that what I’m about to say won’t please everyone. Nothing I can say about football ever pleases everyone.

“But as I have said before, I do have doubts about how the club itself described it, doubts about whether Celtic’s trip to Dubai was really essential.

“I have doubts based on some doubts I’ve seen about whether adherence to bubble rules was strict enough.

“Celtic now have a positive case and another 15 playing and coaching staff are being required to isolate.

“Now, as in any situation like this, it’s for the football authorities to decide whether any further action is necessary and it’s for them to consider that carefully.

“But this whole episode should underline how serious the situation we are in is and why everyone including football should be erring on the side of caution.

“I know fans of other clubs feel very strongly that the whole of football should not pay the price of any one club, whoever they may be, and I agree with that.

“However, a situation like this does make it essential for us to review the rules, including those around travel exemptions and that is of course what we will be doing.

“But as we do, I would hope that Celtic themselves would reflect seriously on all of this.”





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