Neil Lennon admits to "massive" international concern over Celtic stars

By David Walton

September 30, 2020

Celtic manager Neil Lennon has admitted that the club is going to have a “massive” concern next week when the players break up for international duty.

Many of Celtic’s players will feature for nations who will have a double-header to contend with. That could mean that some are playing on a Saturday/Sunday, then a Tuesday/Wednesday, before needing to be prepped for an early Saturday kick-off against Rangers at Parkhead.

As many as 14 Celtic players were away with their respective countries last month. A similar figure could be off again after Sunday’s match against St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon / (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

And Lennon hasn’t hidden behind the fact that he’s massively concerned about it. Speaking on Celtic TV at his pre-match press-conference for tomorrow night’s Europa League play-off clash, the manager said the following:

“It’s massive (the concern). It’s not just the Scottish boys. There’s the Israeli boys, the Norwegians, Shane (Duffy) with Ireland. All of our international players who are going away could be involved in three games.

“That would mean they play on the Wednesday, travel back on the Thursday – the game’s Saturday morning. So we’ll have no time whatsoever really on the training ground with them. So yeah it’s a cause for concern.

“One because of people picking up injuries, and two the little time we’ll have with them when they come back.”

Lack of prep-time is the biggest concern

Yes, potential injuries are always scary when you look at the players away on international break. Top talents such as Odsonne Edouard, Callum McGregor, and Nir Bitton will all be away with their countries working hard over the course of the week.

But then again, that’s the same for every international break. What’s worrying for this one is the fact we have a massive game against Rangers coming up and next to no prep-time available.

The schedule is incredible. For players who do play on the Wednesday, they’re likely to touch down on Thursday. Lennon is likely to then order them to come in on Friday, but even then there will be massive fatigue on the players who have had to jet in from elsewhere.

Shane Duffy is one of many Celtic players on international duty next week / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

The manager will have to watch just how much strain he puts on the international players after they return. However, the Friday (October 16th) is going to be a huge day for us. How the manager manages analysis and outside work is going to be key.

Of course, it’s also good that the likes of Scott Brown, Christopher Jullien, and Albian Ajeti will be left at home to name a few. That at least gives us peace of mind about our depth. But it’s like the manager says, it’s going to be a nervy wait as we hope everyone comes back with a clean bill of health.

One bad injury could prove disastrous in the build-up to the Rangers game on the Saturday (October 17th, 12:30).

In other news, a rarely-used Celtic man was given a positive mention by team-mate Mohamed Elyounoussi today.