Some of Celtic's first-team players still haven't had their summer holiday
Celtic’s next match is now closer than their last. The Hoops open up season 2019/2020 on June 26th with a friendly against Austrian lower league side Pinkafeld. That may be a matter of weeks away but some first-team stars are only just finishing the previous season.
The likes of James Forrest and Callum McGregor’s 2018/2019 season concluded with Scotland’s 3-0 defeat to Belgium on Tuesday night. The Hoops stars played a combined total of 133 matches for club and country during the season and chalked up over 5,000 minutes each.
Their joy at being finished for another season may be short lived though. They’re expected back in training in less than a fortnight.
The majority of the Hoops squad will start work under new permanent boss Neil Lennon on Monday 17th June with the likes of McGregor, Forrest and Bain not returning until the following week.
How can Celtic combat tiredness?
Neil Lennon and the sports science team must be pondering how they can best keep the aforementioned players fresh while also keeping Celtic as strong as possible.
The difficulty for the club is that the most important matches of each season occur right at the start and right at the end. Even if there were no international fixtures in June, the Celtic squad would receive just three weeks off following the cup final. Winning trophies at Hampden is so important for so many reasons, but so is European qualification.
Lennon could look at one option to keep his workaholics as fresh as possible. It’s not ideal but then again it’s hardly an ideal situation.
He could look to rest the likes of Forrest and McGregor in our first European tie. In previous seasons we’ve faced the likes of Lincoln Red Imps, Alashkert and Linfield. We don’t need our full squad to negotiate ties like that. However, the problem is that this year’s draw could be more taxing with the Polish or Romanian champions potentially lying in wait.
Lennon may want to wait until he sees the first round draw before making his decision. It would be a risk to leave out McGregor and Forrest but it’s one that could pay off in the long term.