If there has ever been a worse international fortnight for Celtic supporters, I can’t remember it.
Usually I dread them anyway, as we’ve seen our share our injuries spring from them in the past, as well as some really taking it out of our footballers, many of whom have to travel to weird and not so wonderful places during their time with their national teams.
But for reasons which are obvious, this one has been especially fraught. I don’t imagine the next few are going to be any picnic either. The club has been left furious, and stunned, by the damage this one has wrought on us. The fans are asking “what’s next?”
Three international squads have been hit by this whilst our players have been on duty with them.
The outbreak in the French camp claimed Eddie.
The Scotland outbreak cost us Christie.
The Israeli outbreak cost us Bitton and Elhamed.
We were fortuante that the Irish outbreak did not cost us Shane Duffy.
We still have no idea how it happened, but it doesn’t take a genius to work out that international games, by their very nature, come with heightened risks.
No club in Scotland takes this stuff as seriously as we do, and our precautions are second to none; we were always likely to have our players exposed to far less stringent regimens elsewhere, and there are so many avenues for this thing to spread between commercial flights and hotels in strange lands whose staff might not be following the same procedures.
This international break has cost us four players – so far.
The number might be higher by the time the weekend comes around. We cross our fingers and hope that doesn’t happen, but there are no guarantees and things remain tense at Lennoxtown as we wait on the final word back from some of the national associations who have been afflicted.
This has been hellish.
Once these matches are out of the way our club needs to have a serious discussion with the SFA about all this. I know that many of our players are being selected by other national associations as well, but it’s the job of our own governing body to assure our voice is being heard at the top of the game, and not just ours of course.
We are not the only club which has been afflicted because of this international break.
I understand that Scotland had playoffs … but the Nations League is a ridiculous, and un-necessary, competition which should have been scrapped when the scope of this crisis became clear. It is a joke that we’re being asked to play these matches … a joke that anyone is.
Clubs should not be forced to send players to participate in such a farce.
We are very fortunate that these positive cases have been detected before our footballers returned home; had they come back to Celtic Park with the bug they could have spread it through Lennoxtown and the Celtic Park operation; this exposes our players to a needless level of risk.
Something approaching common sense is needed here, or we’re going to be forced to go through this over and over again.
It’s time the SFA did its job and protected us better.
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