The self-isolation issue that's gone under the radar at Celtic

By David Walton

January 17, 2021

The self-isolation saga at Celtic has certainly been the final nail in our title coffin this season.

That’s undoubted. Had we not dropped four points to Hibernian and Livingston over the last week, some would still have been clinging onto their 10-in-a-row hopes. I was one of them.

Now, we’re left relying on a team who’s dropped four points all season to drop 15 of them in their final 15 games. No chance, it’s over. What we have to try and do now is build a bit of momentum and try to land some punches on our rivals before the season is over.

Livingston on Wednesday night presents plenty of challenges. The Tony Macaroni Arena hasn’t been good to Celtic over the last three years. We’ve lost one and drawn twice in our three trips to West Lothian since Livi’s promotion from the Championship in 2018.

But now we’re at a huge disadvantage once again thanks to the self-isolation fallout from Dubai. Yes, Gavin Strachan may have confirmed Neil Lennon, John Kennedy, and the rest of the quarantined Celtic players will be back tomorrow (Daily Record). Whoop-de-do. However, what shape are they actually going to be in?

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Not much has been spoken about regarding how sharp these players will actually be upon their return. Celtic won’t have been able to monitor their players’ actions all that well. They also won’t have trained with each other most likely since the Dubai trip.

Celtic stars in Self-isolation = lack of match sharpness

That means they’ll come back lacking a bit of sharpness. Any good that came out of Dubai in terms of fitness and sharpness has now been eradicated. Yes, they may have treadmills at home or go on long runs outside. But that’s not the same as training with all of their team-mates. They need ball-work.

The likes of Odsonne Edouard, Kristoffer Ajer, and Leigh Griffiths are three of the club’s big stars affected by this. It’s a key trio with regards to how the Hoops play these days. Missing all three of them has been massive, and there’s a fair chance they won’t be 100% for Wednesday either.

Yes, they’ll be back on Monday. Even so, they’ll only get two days’ worth of training in before the trip to West Lothian. That’s next to nothing. At this rate, it looks as though it could be next Wednesday’s home game against Hamilton before we perhaps see a more inspired display.

Odsonne Edouard is one of the self-isolating players at Celtic / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

That doesn’t mean the performance won’t improve a touch this week, however. At the very least, we’ll now finally have a striker available to play up top. Even if Griff or Edouard is rusty, it’s better than having no focal point at all.

But don’t expect a massive upturn in performance. The returning Celts will be disadvantaged due to a lack of time at Lennoxton. Whatever they worked on in Dubai, it’s likely now all out the window.

Hopefully, that doesn’t lead to another disaster on Wednesday night.

In other news, Livingston manager David Martindale could only find one explanation for this bizarre Celtic moment.