Peter Grant backs Neil Lennon to play Celtic's Odsonne Edouard vs Rangers - if he's feeling well

By David Walton

October 8, 2020

Celtic great Peter Grant has backed Neil Lennon to play Odsonne Edouard against Rangers, so long as he’s back and feeling fine.

Edouard is currently self-isolating in France after testing positive for Covid-19. This has automatically led to fears over whether he’ll be able to play against Rangers in the first derby of the season next weekend.

A report in the Daily Record last night detailed that Celtic are hoping for confirmation on when Edouard can come back to Scotland this morning. This comes after STV journalist Ronnie Charters claimed he would be free to return on October 16th – a day before the derby.

Odsonne Edouard scores for Celtic / (Photo by Paul Campbell/Getty Images)

And if he’s back before the game and Lennon is able to get him into Lennoxtown, Grant feels it’s a certainty that Edouard takes up his role against Rangers.

As quoted by the Daily Record, Grant said: “If he is allowed to go back into training on the Thursday before the Rangers match, there is no doubt in my mind he would be available. If he’s in good health Neil will want him to play. He is such an important player for him in these big games.

“It won’t be a case of Neil forcing him to play or putting him under pressure but if Edouard is feeling fine, why wouldn’t he play, even if he’s only back in training for a day or two? Celtic will get stuff to him if he doesn’t already have it. There will be a static bike, weights and all that kind of thing, like they were all doing during lockdown.

“If I were manager of Celtic and he was available to come back to training next Thursday, with the Old Firm game coming up on the Saturday, he would be selected.”

A bold move even if Edouard does return a day or two early

It’s almost certain that Edouard won’t be returning on Thursday. Considering he will have to self-isolate for 10 days due to Scottish guidelines, it would mean he likely wouldn’t be able to return until the Friday.

At that point, he would have to head over to Lennoxtown at some stage and get a few hours of training in, whilst Lennon would be hoping he returns in good shape.

However, nobody knows just how the virus will grip Edouard. Grant believes they’ll have plenty of cardio and strength-training kit available. But whilst that may be the case, there’s no guarantee Edouard can do a substantial amount whilst being stuck with the virus. You can’t compare it to lockdown, because not every player had the virus when in lockdown.

Edouard warms up for Celtic / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

You simply can’t expect a player who’s been self-isolating for nearly two weeks to come back in top shape and ready to start in a high-intensity derby just 24-48 hours later. We have to take care here, and Lennon undoubtedly will.

It’s also worth taking into consideration that Celtic have AC Milan rocking up at Parkhead in the Europa League five days after the Rangers match. Keeping him fresh for that one whilst giving the likes of Albian Ajeti/Patryk Klimala/Leigh Griffiths minutes in the derby could be a wiser approach.

If Edouard returns, and even if he manages a session at Lennoxtown – it’ll be a massively bold move from Lennon to throw him right into the team next weekend.

In other news, one of Celtic’s coaches has revealed his surprise at the club getting a particular signing over the line.