Euro club confirm they were set to face Celtic this month in Portugal

By David Walton

January 5, 2022

Croatian outfit Hajduk Split have confirmed that they were due to face Celtic in Portugal before the Hoops decided to stay at home.

Ange Postecoglou’s Hoops made the decision not to travel abroad to go on a warm-weather training camp during the winter break. This is due to the fact that the Omicron variant of Covid-19 has swept through the country and foiled travel plans for others.

Celtic came under fierce scrutiny last season for going to Dubai during the pandemic. The Hoops also had a host of Covid-related absences after the trip too due to the close contact rule.

Photo by Alex Gottschalk/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

And now it looks as though Celtic were off to Portugal for their training camp this year had they decided to nip away. A fixture with Split, meanwhile, was clearly on the agenda.

As quoted by the Daily Record [print edition, 05/01, page 53], Hajduk sporting director Mindaugas Nikolicius said: “We will shortly go to a training camp in Portugal. We were supposed to be playing Celtic, but, due to the virus, they are not coming.”

Celtic have instead spent the break at home as they return to training ahead of the Premiership’s resumption on January 17th.

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Celtic made the right decision as Portugal winter break was halted

It certainly would’ve been ideal for the Celtic players to stretch their legs during a warm-weather training camp. It also would’ve been good prep for the return of the competitive action to have a game against Hajduk on the cards. It would’ve made for a decent contest.

However, nobody can argue Celtic’s decision not to turn up in the end. It just made sense. With fans once again not being allowed to fill stadiums in Scotland, the Hoops can’t justify leaving the country.

In fairness to the players, they could probably have done with the rest too. We had an absolutely hectic end to 2021 that saw injuries pile up due to the schedule. The team should be lauded for their consistency in only dropping 2 points in that run, but it clearly took its toll.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

For the likes of Kyogo Furuhashi, James Forrest, and Jota just to name a few, the break couldn’t have come at a better time. Not having to rush over to Portugal for a training camp will probably do them even better than heading over would’ve.

Hopefully, the break has led to the players being able to return fresh with the injured players making the most of it. We certainly need all the strength in depth we can get heading into the second half of the campaign.

It’s time for this Celtic side to really put the foot on the accelerator.

In other news, Former Celtic man Nick Hammond already wowing Newcastle support with transfer work